LONG LOST OBSESSION

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Submitted Date 04/18/2022
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looked outside my window like I'd done every Monday morning. it was raining, not your typical autumn rain, this one was coming down hard, so hard in fact, I wondered if a storm was about to hit. He was running behind schedule this morning. What's taking him so long? I wondered. Then, finally, there he was, i smiled wide and pressed my palms against the windowpane: "hello baby". I whispered as he walked down the familiar path to work, I knew he was going to work because last month I just so happened to be there at a table reading the paper, I don't think he saw me though, probably for the best, I couldn't have him seeing me too often and getting all suspicious. Phone at the ready, I took a picture of him as he cross the street, I was desperate to open the window and call out to him, but I knew I couldn't, I had to wait, bide my time, I knew it would all be worth it once I finally had him in my arms.

Gavin's shift was going swimmingly. It was just like any ordinary day, people ordering, long lines, a few strange orders, nothing too unusual. Halfway through the lunch rush, he spotted a woman sat at the very back, reading a newspaper, or was that pretending to read? He wondered. She kept peering up at him from beneath the pages and would look back down when she realised he'd seen her. She did look a little familiar: long brown hair, average height, probably in her early 20s, though, he couldn't quite place her. After about 15 minutes of this, he decided to go over to her: "Hi". He greeted, wearing a polite smile: "Did you need anything"? She put the paper down and smiled somewhat nervously: "Um, n-no, I'm fine thanks". "You sure"? He asked, "Seemed like you were trying to get my attention earlier". The woman giggled, rolling her eyes: "You'd like that wouldn't you"? He looked confused: "Excuse me"? She blushed, embarrassed: "Oh, er, S-sorry, t-that was my stupid attempt at a joke". She chuckled shyly, before fixing her attention on her half bitten nails. He found the interaction a bit odd, but didn't dwell on it too much: "Ok, well if everything's alright, I should get back to work". He informed, gesturing to his workstation. "Wait, how long have you got till lunch"? He pulled out his phone, looking at the screen: "Er, about 5 minutes, why"? He answered, putting his phone away again: "you look like you could use a break, why don't you sit down here for awhile"? She smiled, gesturing to the seat in front of her: "um… I don't know, I really should finish my shift and I said I'd meet a mate for lunch"…. "Oh come on". She insisted: "No one'll mind you taking a few minutes extra, then you can go and meet your little friend, I'll even treat you to coffee if you like". Gavin considered this for a moment: this was a total stranger, why was she so interested in him? She was right though, he was due a break anyway, what harm could it do? besides, he thought, maybe I can try and work out why her face looks so familiar. "I'll see what I can do". She smiled as he disappeared to find some cover.

Moments later and a cup of coffee in hand Gavin sat in front of the mysterious woman: "Thanks for the coffee". He took a sip: "No problem". She half beamed, why's she so happy? He pondered, I wonder if i look familiar to her too. "So er, why all the interest"? He asked casually: "No reason, just fancied being a Good Samaritan". She smiled, he laughed: "Do this often do you, buy coffee for strange café barista's"? The woman leaned back, intrigued, crossing her arms, a mischievous glint in her eye: "Ohhh, are you strange then"? Gavin laughed again: "I didn't say that"! She giggled: "Don't worry, your secret's safe with me". He rolled his eyes playfully , loosening up a little: "So what brings you here then"? "Other than buying drinks for strange men"? "Oh, I was kinda at a loose end so I thought"…. She shrugged: …"Why not check out the local shops". Gavin took another gulp of coffee: "So, you're new here"? "Yeah just moved a few months ago". She replied: "Ah ok". He nodded, smiling: How are you finding it"? She nodded: "Yeah, good thanks, actually I"- she was cut off suddenly by his phone vibrating in his pocket: "Sorry, this might be my mate". Her face fell slightly as he dug out his phone to read the text: "Yeah, that's him, sorry I'd better get off". He apologised, scrambling to get out the door: "Thanks for the coffee though". He raced out before she even had a chance to draw breath.

I came home that afternoon, took off my coat and shoes, discarded them on the floor and spun around, a happy, giddy spin. I couldn't remember the last time I felt so happy. I felt lighter than air, like I was gliding, floating on cloud 9. Finally, I finally, actually had a whole conversation with Gavin Thomas! After years of pining for him, years of admiring him from afar, months of watching him from my window, I actually got to talk to him for more than two seconds! It was amazing, more amazing than I could've ever imagined. I figured he might not remember me, it had been a long time, but it felt so good to hear his voice again: it had gotten deeper, his eyes were still as green as springtime, and that hair, oh gosh that hair, it took all my strength not to reach out and touch it, I was so nervous at first, I barely knew what I was saying, but once he'd sat down and started getting comfortable around me, I felt just as at ease as two years ago. At least I did until his stupid friend interrupted us. How dare he, how dare he ruin this for me, I've waited six years for this! I seethed. His little friend may prove problematic for my plan, but it's ok, baby steps, like they always used to say in therapy.

I sighed happily, picked up my coat and found the receipt from Gavin's coffee. Clutching it tight, I thought about how I bought Gavin Thomas a coffee like I always imagined doing back at uni, going off campus for study dates, getting a quick pick me up before classes, but unfortunately he was too popular to notice me, and I was too shy to make myself noticed, but none of that mattered now, because I did it! I got him to say more than one sentence to me, and I bought him coffee. I snapped another pic on my phone and looked through all the others I had of him, mostly of the back of his head but still, all mine, and one day soon, he would be all mine too.

I hated Tuesdays, I hated every day that wasn't Monday to be honest, ugh why did Gavin only work at the café on Mondays? It was the only time he ever passed by my window. The rest of the week always felt so… blah. My Tuesdays usually consisted of social media snooping, his Facebook was private and I couldn't add him as a friend without arousing suspicion, however, I did find some selfies I took great pleasure in photographing. He also had Twitter and Instagram which allowed me to snoop around to my heart's content. I had to stop myself commenting obviously, sure, I could've made fake accounts, but he probably would've found that strange too, some random account constantly commenting on all of his posts. But soon enough, I'd be able to add him on everything, I sighed happily and reached for my phone on my nightstand, i opened his Twitter first, nothing was new except a couple statuses:

@GavT97 20/09/21 13:30pm
Shout out to strangers who bring you coffee I guess! 👍

@GavT97 20/09/21 7:00pm
Ugh I really need a break rn!

@GavT97 21/09/21 08:40am
Two years after graduation and I still don't have a clue! 😂 🤦‍♀️

My heart literally jumped after seeing that first status. He mentioned me! He actually mentioned me! I was so happy I could've screamed it from the rooftops! I made an impact on him! Maybe a very small one, but he felt it was worth mentioning! This is gonna be easier than I ever dreamed! I thought, ecstatic. I looked at the last two statuses again, saddened suddenly, it sounded like he was feeling overworked, I always thought he only worked at the café during the day, maybe he picked up another job? There was still so much I had to learn, I just didn't wanna run the risk of getting caught. I mean, what if he accidentally saw me somewhere, then a week later saw me somewhere else? Ugh, I was way too paranoid for any of this, but he was worth it, so, so worth it.

The third status made me even sadder, maybe he was like me, life hadn't exactly gone to plan after uni. We were both on the same physics course, Problem was, I couldn't exactly figure out where I wanted to take things next. I just always had a fascination with science, studying planets and atoms, why things are how they are on Earth, it's like getting lost in something bigger than you, letting it absorb you and all your tiny little worries, like looking up at the stars and realising how enormous the world is, how small we all are in comparison. I tried applying for things, science teacher, lab assistant, I even thought about becoming a marine biologist. Nothing ever felt right, maybe Gavin felt the same, maybe the world felt too big, maybe he felt suffocated so just settled, he had so much potential, it'd be such a shame to waste it. I laughed: no one's ever said that about me.

I clicked out of Gavin's Twitter and found his Instagram, I saw one new pic, he was holding the coffee I'd bought him, his smile as radiant as ever. He was with some other guy, must've been the annoying friend who ruined our nice moment. Still, he'd mentioned me twice now and I was elated. I scrolled to a familiar pic of him sat on a bench in a park I just so happened to see him at a couple weeks ago, thankfully, I remained undetected, I wondered if it was a regular visit, maybe if I was really careful I'd see him again today. Don't risk it. I told myself, at least on social media, I could snoop around without having to be too cautious..

It had been 3 weeks since I last saw Gavin, of course, I got my usual fix of window watching and social media snooping, I also just so happened to be at a local club he mentioned on Instagram a few days ago. I was careful obviously, he was with a couple of friends, including The Nuisance, as I liked to call him, and a blonde girl I instantly took a disliking to. It was so hard to stay away. I didn't realise just how hard it would be when I decided to put my plan in motion. I thought about waiting another week just to be sure, but screw it, no way was i waiting a whole month for faze 2!

The café was quiet that morning, there were a few punters, but it wasn't as chaotic as it normally was, not many people came by in the mornings, Gavin looked up from serving another customer when he saw the woman from the other day entering: "Hello stranger"! He said smiling as she approached: "Haven't seen you round here much, I thought you said this was your local". She laughed: "Well I'm a busy girl Mr barista". "Oh, and what pray tell are you busy doing exactly"? She raised an eyebrow: "Someone's nosy". He laughed "Ok, ok what'll it be"? "One espresso please, extra milky". "Got it, sugar"? "Two please". "Aha see"… Gavin pointed playfully at her with his pencil …"if you'd said no I could've made the "Sweet enough already huh"? Joke, missed your opportunity there". He chuckled to himself as he went to make her drink, she couldn't fight the slight blush that crept across her face. "There you go". He said, passing her the coffee: "Thanks". She replied accepting it. "How much"? "You know what, it's on the house, call this a thank you for last time". She half beamed again, If he had to guess, he either looked familiar too, or she just hadn't interacted with many people who were nice just because. "Thanks, I-I really appreciate this". She took a sip out of her freshly made coffee. "No problem, I really appreciated the one you bought me". She smiled again before looking around the near empty store: "Not many customers today". She observed: "Nope, it's normally a lot calmer in the mornings, just the way I like it". "Ohhh, so not a big fan of crowds"? "More like I don't like being rushed off my feet". She laughed: "Who does"? "Eh, some people thrive under that kind of pressure, gives them a buzz or whatever". Gavin rolled his eyes in exasperation: "Not me". She replied: "Agreed, I don't think I'll ever understand people like that". He admitted as he continued to mill around his workstation, making sure there were still enough snacks and pastries in stock. "So how's your friend"? She inquired, propping an arm up on the counter and taking another sip of coffee. "My friend"? He asked, turning to face her again. "Yeah, the one you were rushing off to meet when"- "Ah, yeah that". He nodded in recognition. "Listen I'm really sorry about that by the way"- "It's fine, I'm just glad you enjoyed the coffee, and what little conversation we did have". He chuckled sheepishly, he'd been feeling a little guilty about that, she actually seemed sweet, and he was genuinely beginning to enjoy their conversation, he was also hoping to find out if he really did know her from somewhere, though, probably not if she just moved: "Well I definitely enjoyed the coffee". With a sly grin, Gavin fished out his phone, went to his Instagram and showed her the picture he'd taken of him enjoying the coffee with his friend. "See"? She smiled, unable to stop heat rising to her cheeks again, she quickly patted the sides of her face, trying to contain her flush, Gavin laughed: "Aw, are you blushing"? "Yeah, your friend's cute". She retorted, smiling smugly. "Oh ha ha". Gavin answered, putting his phone back, she just smirked: "Meeting anyone for lunch again today"? "Nope, why"? "Hoping for more of that scintillating conversation from before"? "I mean, if you're down"…. He shrugged: "Why not, I'm Gavin by the way". He greeted, holding out his hand, she paused for a moment, just staring at it before remembering herself: "Jane". She slipped her hand into his and shook it. "Nice to meet you Jane".

Today was such a success! The biggest success I could've hoped for! Never in a million years did I ever dream this would be so simple! I thought it would take way longer than a few weeks, but he liked me! He really, really liked me! I couldn't believe it! Well, that or he just felt sorry for me because he could tell what a sad, pathetic loner I was. No, no, No, he has to like me. I repeated, he has to like me, he showed me the pic of him with the coffee I bought him, he wanted me to know he was thinking about me, he has to like me, he has to or the plan won't work, he just has to! He wouldn't do and say all those lovely things just to be nice would he? He even gave me his number! I grabbed my phone from my pocket and found my contacts, I sighed, relieved. I knew it! I knew it was real! I stared at that screen like my eyes were nailed to it. I had his number! I could text him whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted! Ok, maybe not whatever whenever, I still had to be careful. But I had his number, which meant more opportunities to get closer to him faster.

Not only did I get his number, but he made me free coffee! I picked up the now empty coffee cup beside me. Gavin Thomas made me this. I thought, holding it close. I closed my eyes, and breathed in deeply, soaking it all in. Not only did he make me free coffee, he shook my hand! I got to hold Gavin Thomas's hand! It was so warm, warmer than summer, warmer than my own breath. He was warmer, and he was as sweet as I remembered, and funny, and smart, he was exactly how I remembered. I worried for a while that he wouldn't be, but he was, he totally and completely was!

Not only had we shook hands, he introduced himself! I could call him by name without it being weird! Gavin, Gavin, Gavin, Gavin,…. My Gavin. And now he knew my name! It sounded like honey, like a river flowing from his glorious lips, I wished I'd recorded it, I could've listened to him say my name all day, all year even! Jane, Jane, Jane, Jane….my Jane. Not only did he know my name, we went on a date! An amazing lunch date, for a whole, uninterrupted hour! It was everything I wanted and more! Although, I don't think he'd have called it a date, maybe he'd have called it a casual hangout with someone he was getting to know, or a hangout of convenience, I mean, we didn't even leave the café, but I'd most certainly call it a date. I had to embellish some details about myself, just until we were close enough that I could tell him who I really was, if I told him now, he might think I was just some crazy stalker who randomly showed up, I had to make everything look like a coincidence. So when he asked me why I looked so familiar, I told him I just had one of those faces.

I hated lying to him, but this was never gonna work if I didn't play my cards right. I also told him I was on stress leave from work, just to buy some time till I figured something out. He told me he went to the University of London, yep, our university, when he asked where I went, I said I went to Greenwich, then gave him some story about wanting to get away from my family, well at least that part was true, I did wanna get away from them. Gavin also told me things hadn't worked out in his field, I was right! He was like me! He said he was looking into becoming a substitute teacher. But for now he worked as a barista and did some deliveries on the side, the teacher thing definitely sounded more him, I didn't tell him that though. The rest of lunch was spent talking about how bad the rain had been lately, how the first time we spoke, I thought a storm was coming, our hobbies, favourite shows, crazy things we dreamed of doing as kids, I only mentioned the science thing in passing, I feared if I'd gone into too much detail I might blow my cover. But it didn't matter, Gavin was getting to know the real me, the me I always wanted him to see, the me I always wanted to be, the me he made me feel. So what if I skipped a few career and life details, He knew me, my personality, and I knew him, and it made me love him even more if that was possible!

I couldn't sleep that night, I was way too excited, I kept looking at my phone to see if it was too early to text Gavin, I thought of a million texts I could send:

Hey Gavin, how did you sleep? X

You up yet?? X

Gavin, I love you so much! I just had to tell you! You're everything to me! Xxxx

Sadly, I knew I couldn't send anything like that, I had to play it cool. All those sessions my mother, (or "Big Fat Egg Donor" as I so affectionately call her) insisted I went to always made it look so simple, the therapist would give you a scenario, you'd respond the way you wanted, and she'd inevitably tell you you were wrong and give you "suggestions" on better phrases. I'd say: "I'm gonna burn you alive if you cross me again"! And she'd say: "Try saying, if you want this friendship to continue, you need to stop stepping over my boundaries". I roll my eyes every time I think of trying to be less straight forward about what I want, when did anyone ever see results by playing the long game? But this was different, I wanted Gavin more than I've ever wanted anyone or anything in my life, if I had to try to play it cool for a while, I would. 5 o clock's too early right?

Three hours went by of anxiously tapping the sheets on my bed, watching some trashy TV program I stopped paying attention to 20 minutes in, and checking my phone, until at last! 8:00AM! A perfectly good time to text. I hurried to find Gavin's contact and typed my message:

Message To: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
12th Oct 8:00AM:
Hey! 🙂 how are you??

I watched, waiting for the little typing bubbles to appear, and when they did, I jumped.

Hey! Yeah all good thanks 🙂 you?

I smiled as I typed back:

Yeah pretty good thanks, Wuu2?

Just having a coffee before work, you?

He was going into work soon, I hated that it wasn't Monday and I couldn't watch, or go see him later in the cafe.

Just reading the paper

I lied, I couldn't exactly tell him I was watching TV while I waited for him to text back could I?

So where are your deliveries taking you today??

I asked, I needed to see him, I'd have to be very, very careful, but I needed to see him.

Bromley

Bromley huh? I thought to myself, if only I could find out where exactly without it sounding odd.

Bromley huh?

I answered:

Yeah, couple people need tools

Hmm interesting, I thought to myself.

Long day ahead of you then??

I texted back:

Umm, not really, should be done about 3ish, wbu? Doing anything interesting today?

Oh I sure am, I mused.

Just some errands, might go see a friend down town.

I texted back, fighting the suffocating urge to put a kiss at the end of it.

Ohh well have a nice time. 🙂

Thanks you too! 🙂

I put my phone on the coffee table and raced upstairs to get ready, I had a quick shower, washed, blow dried and brushed my hair, and put on one of my best outfits: a black leather pencil skirt I bought myself one Christmas to cheer myself up after a particularly stressful "talk" with Big, Fat Egg Donor, a bright red top I save for special occasions, black high heel boots, loads and loads of perfume and some red lipstick to match my top. I topped off my look with my white furr coat, perfect for this time of year. I knew it was pointless dressing up when I wasn't planning on him actually seeing me, but I just couldn't help it, I wanted to look good for him, no matter what. I always imagined this being the outfit I eventually seduced him with. I looked myself over in my full length mirror, grabbed my keys, phone and bus pass and headed for Bromley.

It was a bit of a trek, but I managed to catch up with Gavin on Almond Way, I kept out of the way of course, hid behind a few bushes and trees, I had a very, very good view of the back of him at one point, he looked so cute in his little delivery shirt, it may have only been plain black with a logo, but he totally rocked it, and all I wanted to do was rip it right off of him! Control yourself! I hissed internally. There was a really nice house a few doors down from where he was making his next delivery, small, cozy looking, I could imagine us living somewhere like that in the near future. I continued to follow Gavin until he stopped at a Kebab place, presumably for a late lunch, I wish I knew what his order was, note to self: add learn Gavin's kebab order to my list of things to learn about. That, and all his other takeaway orders. I waited for him around the corner of the building, then tailed him back to his, there were a few moments along the way where I thought the jig might've been up, he kept stopping and looking around, but I've gotten pretty good at making myself invisible and it always helps to have a crowd around you.

His house was three streets away from mine, it was white and had a black door, I took a picture to add to my collection before heading home myself, I was quite sad that my day with Gavin was over so soon, but I was so excited I'd get to text him again!

Gavin had just got home from work when his phone vibrated, after taking off his shoes, he sat down and unlocked it to open and read the message:

Message From: Jane
12th Oct 3:10PM:
Hey how was your day? 🙂

Fine thanks 🙂 yours? How was your friend?

Yeah good thanks 🙂 mentioned you

LOL, only good things I hope

Maaaaaybe 🙂

Hahaha 🙄 you really think you're funny don't you?!

Haha you do too evidently 🙂

How do you Work that one out then??

You're still talking to me aren't you? I must entertain you to some degree 🙂

Maybe I'm just THAT bored LOL

🙄

Hahaha gotya!!! 🙌

LOL yeah yeah yeah yuk it up! 😛

LOL so wuu2 now? Or are you still with your friend?

Just left, catching the bus back home now 🙂 you?

Cool 🙂 and just got home from work, finding something to watch on Netflix, I'm not really feeling any of these options though….

Oooohh you could finish watching Manifest before the next season comes out 🙂

Nah, I want something that doesn't require a lot of brain power LOL

Friends?

Hmm, maybe I'll keep looking LOL

LOL good luck 🙂

👍

Jane was pretty good at texting, her replies were almost instant, Gavin sometimes got bored replying quickly so would put his phone down, do something else and come back to it later, something about Jane's wit and the pace of her answers kept his attention. He didn't tell her that he'd been talking to someone for the last few weeks, he'd only just met her, it's not like he really owed her anything, besides, she might not even be interested in me in that way, he figured. This could simply be a nice new friendship. He told himself, he didn't want to put his foot in it by assuming things, but he couldn't shake the feeling he got. He didn't know where things would go with the other woman, maybe he should've said something, just in case? He brushed it off, I'm probably overthinking it. He concluded.

Two weeks went by of Gavin and I texting back and forth, I only went to the café twice in those two weeks, there wasn't much need to show up all the time anymore, I had his number and we were getting closer, I was halfway there. I snuck over to a couple more of his delivery locations, just for funsies, and of course I couldn't miss his weekly walk past my window, or his posts on social media, but I decided to scale it back a little, he liked me, now I just had to get him to fall for me. I still jumped whenever my phone buzzed though, no amount of time passed could ever erase the butterflies that fluttered in my stomach whenever Gavin texted:

Message from: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
26th Oct 8:30AM:
Stopping by the café today?

I smiled, as I looked at the screen, he wanted me to be there, he missed me, I was doing it! I was making him think about me! Fall for me! Sigh, playing it cool really, really sucks!

Haha, why? Miss seeing my lovely face around??

I've just gotten used to it that's all, bit like a boomerang or a bad penny LOL

🙄 you're not very convincing you know

Haha, come on you know it's all love really 🙂

Love! Love! I stared at that word so hard my eyes began to strain. I wanted to hear him say that word for so long, I wanted to confess everything that instant but unfortunately, there was a pretty good chance he meant it in a jokey, friendly, platonic way. I slumped back in my chair, defeated, I wanted him to love me so much. Why?! Why is this taking so long?! I agonised, tears gathered in my eyes, my heart started to ache and all I wanted was to ask him if he meant what I hoped he meant but had a good feeling he didn't. I wiped angrily at my tears as another message came through:

Message from: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
26th Oct: 8:36AM
You still there??

Yeah sorry LOL I was seeing if I had time on my very busy schedule 🙂

LOL oh I'm sure

😱 is that sarcasm I'm detecting Mr Gavin?!

Noooo course not, I'm sure you're very busy 🙂

Kmt I hate you! LOL

Love you too baby!! 😘

My heart stopped again, it was like I was in some weird/wonderful fever dream! This was everything I wanted but in the wrong context, I needed him to mean it, I sucked in a breath and decided to feel this out a little, if he responded the way I hoped, job done, Gavin was mine, if not, well, I'm a pro at scheming and plotting, one way or another, I would get my man:

You're right Gavin…. I do love you, so, so much, you've got no idea how much I want you….

With shaky hands I tapped the send icon, now I know what you're thinking: Jane! I thought you were playing the long game! But see, this was safe territory, we were already joking around in this love/hate, affection thing, if he didn't feel the same way yet he'd probably just think I was joking, or drunk or something, even if he did get weirded out, I could always play it off as a joke or inebriation. I only had to wait a few seconds for a reply, that was a good sign I hadn't wrecked things:

LMFAO!!!! Are you drunk?! It's not even 9 yet! Or is this your attempt at sarcasm, sorry babe sarcasm isn't supposed to be THAT precise! LOL

See? Nothing to worry about, I just had to keep working until my plan came together. I smiled as I answered him back:

Haha, yeah well you would know, you're just dripping with sarcasm aren't you?? Dunno if I wanna come now

LOL aw, are you sulking??

Hey you're the one who wants me to come so bad, I couldn't care less

I lied.

LOL I don't want you to come, I was just asking if you were is all

Fine 🙂

Fine 🙂

Of course I put my phone down and got ready to go, I was like putty in his soft, warm hands. I made sure I was there to watch him walk passed my window, I wouldn't miss that for the world! I wondered if he knew how close we lived. Probably not, I only ever saw him walk past my house on Mondays, he never saw me walk passed his at any point, ever, I was determined not to give him any reason to be suspicious of me. I'd have to leave it a few hours before I went to see Gavin, just so he'd think I wasn't coming, just to keep him on his toes, play hard to get you know? But I'd definitely be there.

It was another busy day in the café, It had been a few hours since Gavin asked Jane if she was stopping by, he couldn't help glancing over at the clock on the far side of the room, 13:25PM. He'd be off to lunch in 5 minutes. Maybe I should text her. He thought, he shook his head, he didn't want to seem too eager, he had no idea why he enjoyed her company so much, but he did. After lunch Gavin went back to serving customers. He sighed, slightly disappointed that he still hadn't heard anything from Jane, but the day wasn't over yet, maybe she really is too busy, or trying to play hard to get? Or… something? 4:30pm rolled around, half an hour before Gavin's day was officially over, customers were starting to slow and file out, and still no sign of Jane, oh well, maybe next time. He resigned, he was wiping down the counter when he heard the door swing open, he looked up to find Jane strolling in, a smug smile spread across her face. "Cutting it a bit fine aren't you"? He scolded playfully, putting the cloth he was using down. "What"? "I told you I was busy". She replied, propping both arms up on the counter: "Er, excuse me, I've just wiped that". She chuckled: "Don't worry , my jacket won't ruin your spotless looking counter". "It's probably a little wet now though". Gavin answered laughing. Jane took her arms from off the counter to inspect her jacket sleeves: "Eh, it's not that bad". She assured, putting her arms right back where they were, Gavin rolled his eyes: "Espresso"? "Actually, how about a Cappuccino this time"? "Ah, mixing it up huh"? He smiled, she nodded back at him: "Mmhmm, yep". "Ok, great, still with two sugars"? Jane smirked: "Nah, I'm sweet enough already you see". He smiled back at her, enjoying the shared memory: "Coming right up".

Jane hung around until the end of Gavin's shift, he'd just finished clearing up and was ready to leave: "Thanks for sticking around". "S'alright, it was nice, even if I couldn't wrestle another free coffee out of you". "Hey, you can't always get free bees from me you know, I need to keep the lights on". "That's a shame". Gavin rolled his eyes teasingly at her: "So er, do you wanna grab some chips"? "There's a park I like to go to a little off the beaten track, just chill, enjoy the peace and quiet, you wanna come"? Jane's eyes lit up, she looked like she was trying to contain just how happy she was. I really hope I haven't given her the wrong end of the stick he thought.

About 25 minutes after leaving the café, I was back at the park I'd seen Gavin at a couple months ago, only this time, he was sharing it with me! This was his special place and he was actually sharing it with me! He was right, it really was peaceful, last time I was here, it struck me that there wasn't a playground attached, I've never seen anything like it before, I didn't do much exploring around town, apart from wherever I happened to see Gavin, maybe I was too focused on him, maybe it might've been nice to see what else Sutherton had to offer, but as he turned to face me with those big, sparkly, green eyes, and that smile that made my soul feel like it was on fire, I couldn't care less, he was the best thing this place had to offer, and the only thing worth exploring. "So what do you think"? "It's beautiful Gavin, thanks for sharing it with me". "No problem, it's nice to get away from all the hustle and bustle and just think sometimes". I knew exactly how he felt, life can be so loud at times. Although I hated that I didn't have the career I'd always dreamed of, I was so glad I wasn't part of the rat race anymore, there were some really hectic times back then: "Yeah, I know, so when did you first start coming here"? "After uni, I kinda felt lost you know"? "I used to like taking long walks around town, that's when I came across it, I used to sit here for hours just clearing my head". I nodded: "I get that, and it helps that there's no playground here, less chance of kids running up and down". He smiled: "Exactly". "So what kind of things do you think about here"? I asked, taking a chip out of one of the wrappings set between us, I longed to be closer to him, but this was still more than I ever hoped for, who was I to complain?: "Anything, everything, but enough about me, what about you"? "What do you think about"? You: "Not much really". I smiled, hoping he hadn't noticed my nervousness, I hated lying to him so much, especially when he was being so open with me: "I just like going with the flow". I added, taking another chip: "What about your stress leave"? He sat up straight all of a sudden, facing me: "I mean, obviously you don't have to tell me if you don't want, but it seams like that's something worth thinking about".

I sighed and took a third chip, deception is hungry work apparently: "There was just some stuff with my family I let effect my work that's all". Well, at least that was only a white lie. Gavin nodded, he seamed to accept that answer, thank goodness: "Yeah, families can be tricky, Is everything ok with them now"? I swallowed, how easy would it have been to just nod and brush it all off, but I didn't want to, I wanted at least the tiniest bit of authenticity, but before I could respond Gavin spoke up again: "Sorry, stupid question, you wouldn't still be on leave if everything was ok would you"? "Very observant". I joked, trying to lighten the mood a little, Gavin rolled his eyes in that adorable mock way he always did: "Wanna talk about it"? He offered, he was so sweet, did I really wanna taint our special, romantic moment with my joke of a family? Nah. I smiled: "I'm ok, thanks for the offer though". "No worries, I'm here if you change your mind, you know that don't you"? Of course I did, he's always been there when I needed him, I smiled at him again: "I know". He smiled back before grabbing a chip himself, he'd been so engrossed in the conversation, he hadn't even touched his bag before now, it made me feel even worse for lying to him so much. I kept wondering if this was the moment he'd tell me he liked me and wanted to go out, or maybe this was already us going out.

Sure, it was a little sooner than planned, but I'd take it, of course I'd take it. If I asked and he didn't say yes, I could always laugh it off, we'd built a really good rapport with each other like that, I'm almost certain he'd have taken nearly anything I said as a joke, so I decided to go for it, I took a deep breath: "Gavin, is, is this a date"? It felt like time was standing still in those few seconds between what I said and how Gavin would respond, I held my breath, my heart hammered against my chest, it felt like I was standing at the edge of a cliff, I couldn't quite gage his expression: "Do you want this to be a date"? YES! YES! WITH EVERYTHING IN ME YES! I laughed: "No, oh my gosh you'd love that wouldn't you"?! "Oh, ha ha, you're so funny"! He answered sarcastically, before sighing with what sounded like relief and slumping back against the bench. Why does he look so happy I said no? I was so sure this was working, so sure he liked me too: "I'm glad we're on the same page, I mean, we're friends right"? "I don't wanna ruin that". Erm did Gavin Thomas just friend zone me?! Gosh, he was so lucky it was too early for the plan to come together anyway or he'd have been in so much trouble, still, I smiled sweetly: "Exactly, have a chip, friend". I took a chip and threw it at him, then smiled innocently as if nothing had happened: "What was that for"? Gavin answered, wide eyed, I shrugged: "Just felt like it". And besides, if I was gonna get friend zoned I might as well get some enjoyment out of it: "I can't let you get away with it you know". "That's what I'm counting on".

I got up and took off down the park as Gavin grabbed a handful of chips and began hurling them at me, well in my general direction anyway, he had terrible aim, and it was getting dark which didn't help things: "Hey, you're not supposed to run, that's hardly fair is it"?! He yelled as he ran after me. I hid behind a tree at the far end of the park and waited to see what would happen next: "Or hide Jane, you've got me wasting perfectly good chips here"! Yeah, that part was a shame, but hey, all's fair in love and war right? He was looking for me for a good few minutes, the park was spacious and the near darkness made hiding that much easier, then all of a sudden, I felt someone come up right behind me, great, I didn't even hear him coming! I thought, he must've found a path with less leaves or something. Before I could react, Gavin spoke: "Found you". I screamed, stepping away hurriedly as a whole bunch of chips were dumped on my head: "Mess up my hair why don't you"! I sulked, Gavin just laughed: "You started it". I bent down and gathered a few leaves from the floor, mixed in with some of the fallen chips, I think Gavin was too confused and curious as to what I was doing to make a move, because he just stood there. I stepped closer and dumped the pile all over him before stepping back again with a smirk: "There, now we're even". "Oh no babe, that is so not how this works". He replied, shaking his head, I started to run again, but this time Gavin was quick, he grabbed me around the waste and began tickling me, I broke out into fits of laughter: "Give up yet"? "Hahahaha, no way"! I laughed, trying to catch my breath: "Ok". Gavin said, before tickling me even harder! I laughed more and more as the pressure he put on my sides increased: "How about now"? I was about to say no, no way! But then his tickling got even more intense, and breathing became a straight up mission!: "ok, ok, I give up"! I laughed hysterically, at last, he let go and I finally caught my breath: "There, that wasn't so hard was it"? "I'll get you back for that one day". "Course you will, didn't realise you were that ticklish, I'm so filing that one away for later". "Fine, let's see how you like it". I tried tickling his sides, his stomach, I even lifted his arms up so I could tickle underneath them. Nothing. He just stood there like a statue, no flinching, no laughter, nothing, just a smug smile plastered on his stupid, perfect little face, frustrated, I let go of his arm with a huff: "I hate you so much". He just laughed: "I can tell". Then he was just looking at me, eyes intent, has he changed his mind about wanting to just be friends? Is he about to kiss me? Instinctively, I stepped a little closer to him. A subtle breeze blew around us, messing up my hair even more than when Gavin dumped his chips all over me, he moved a fraction closer too, reaching out and tucking a strand of hair behind my ear, our eyes locked, and his hand lingered on my cheek, I swallowed, my mouth felt dry, it was like I was hypnotised by his eyes: "Gavin"… I whispered, kiss me. But he cleared his throat and stepped back, breaking the spell. Ugh what are you doing?! I wanted to scream at him, or abandon everything I planned and kiss him myself: "Sorry, I just thought you wouldn't want your hair getting more messed up than it already was". "No, you're right, thanks". I replied, looking at the ground: "We should get going, it's already gotten dark, and they'll probably be closing up soon". He started to walk away and I slowly followed, he turned to me again: "Thanks for coming with me though, I really had fun with you this evening". I nodded, painting on a smile: "Yeah, me too". He smiled back, and we walked back to get our chips from the bench we were sat on before starting for home.

I had no idea what was happening, he clearly liked me, why is he hiding it? Maybe something happened in his past that made it hard to trust women? That thought was sad, I really hoped not, but it would be so different with me. I stressed, I'd never, ever hurt my Gavin, I think I'd literally rather die! maybe he was one of those people who wanted to be friends with someone for ages before asking them out? Sorry Gav, that is not happening, I'm not waiting a second longer than planned to have you! Maybe he wanted to focus on work? Or go travelling without the baggage of a partner? Whatever it was, it didn't matter, I was gonna work on him, the important thing was that he liked me, Next step? Getting him to act on it, and I would, no doubt about it.

Six weeks went by, and I had my feet firmly under the table! Gavin was opening up more and more, He told me about his younger brother, and about how he was just starting uni, of course, I already knew all that thanks to his Twitter, but it was still so amazing hearing it from Gavin himself! I really hoped his brother would do better after uni than Gavin and I. I have a brother, he's older, I had to cut him out of my life too, all he ever did was take Big Fat Egg Donor's side of things, that's why I liked calling him "Toady". All he ever did was suck up to that maternal nightmare of ours, kept saying she was only trying to help and that I should give her another chance. Well A, I didn't need her help and B, he was supposed to be on my side! Mine! No one else's! We were supposed to be inseparable! He and I against the world! Anyway, the last time we spoke, he kept going on about how important family was, I told him I didn't need him and that he should take a long walk off a short bridge, then hung the phone up on him. He's tried to get back in touch since, but like I said, those two are dead to me! Besides, what did I need them for? I had Gavin now, seamed like he got on way better with his brother than I did with mine. Gavin also told me about his parents, again, I'd already heard some stories from his Twitter, and they were, again, significantly better than mine. I found out some of his takeaway orders: pepperoni and pineapple pizza (completely uncalled for by the way) I still can't believe there are actually people out there who put pineapple on pizza! Seriously?! Other orders included: Chicken kebab with chilli sauce, saveloy and chips. And his favourite dessert is apple pie. I met a few of his work colleagues, I still hadn't met The Nuisance though, but I knew his actual name now, I laughed to myself Nelson The Nuisance, has a nice ring to it. Gavin said he met him at uni and that they were best friends and roommates, they were even renting a place together now, they're practically brothers! Funny, I didn't remember him at all, a bit like how Gavin didn't remember me, at least he said my face looked familiar, nothing about The Nuisance looked familiar to me. You'd think he'd ring a small bell at least, given how much attention I paid to Gavin at uni. But then, he hung around so many people, I couldn't keep track of everyone he ran with, and I was too intimidated to be around him all the time. The Nuisance must've just flew under my radar. Shame really, would've been nice to have a little foreknowledge about how much of a fixture he was in Gavin's life. On another note of progress, Gavin also added me on Instagram and Twitter, and I commented on nearly all his posts, I was still trying to watch my step. I still hadn't been added on Facebook for some reason, maybe he didn't use it that often, but I knew it would happen, I just had to wait it out, just like I'd been doing for the past six years. I unlocked my phone one early December morning to find a new text from Gavin:

Message from: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Dec 4th 8:30AM:
Busy tonight?

Probably 🙂

I replied, still trying to play hard to get.

🙄 can you please be serious for like 5 seconds??

Ok…. 5….4….3….2…..1…. 😜 🙃 😝

I laughed, I loved messing with him.

Fine forget it, I was gonna invite you over but since this is how it is… 😌

Wait, back up…WHAT?!!!! Going to Gavin Thomas's house?! Invited?! Getting to see all his rooms?! Being surrounded by all his things?! No way!!! I'm dreaming right?! This has to be a dream! I pinched myself, just to make sure. Ow! OMG OMG IM AWAKE!!! THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING!! What an opportunity! The possibilities are almost endless!! I had to think carefully about my reply, I couldn't let on how absolutely beyond ecstatic I was!

I think I can calve out some time 🙂 why? What's up?

I wanna intro you to some people, say 7ish?

His family? Am I about to meet his family?! I pondered, utterly thrilled by the prospect! I mentally started listing off all the things I'd need: My best dress and shoes, a gift, my best smile…

Sounds good 🙂 I'll be there 🙂

Great! See you then! 🙂 here's the adds:
24 AnnVille Road Sutherton SU2 6LB

👍

👍 🙂

Ugh 7 o'clock couldn't come fast enough!

I went shopping later that day, and bought a white dress, no frills or anything, just a simple dinner dress, a matching white necklace, gold hoop earrings and a cute white handbag, not too small, but not too big either. I also bought a pair of heels that matched my dress, some wine and beer as a gift for whoever it was Gavin wanted me to meet, it had to be something neutral just in case, but I wanted to bring something. Maybe it's his brother visiting from uni, Christmas holidays should be soon right? Maybe they'd invite me to spend Christmas with them! Maybe it's his parents, an even better possibility for a Christmas invite! I knew it didn't make much sense since he said we were only friends, but I couldn't help hoping. I bought Gavin some apple pie for good measure, just to make him happy, I loved making him happy. When I was getting ready, I made sure to put on my best perfume and lipstick, I looked at the time on my phone 6:55PM, it was time, I smoothed down my outfit, took a deep breath, grabbed my stuff and left for Gavin's.

Gavin heard a knock at the door and opened it to find Jane standing there, wine, beer and something in a plastic bag in hand, wow he thought, someone came prepared. "You look nice" Gavin commented: "Thanks" Jane answered with a smile as she stepped inside, Gavin closed the door behind her and led her into the living room: "Is that dress new"? "This old thing"? She asked, looking down at her pretty formal dress: "Nah, I've had it for ages, oh I brought some goodies". She passed him the bottles and plastic bag and he looked at their labels: "Oooohhh, wine and beer, a very cliché house gift, well done". He sassed: "Oh, that's charming that is, guess you won't want your gift then". She fired back, gesturing for him to look inside the bag: "Aw you star, thank you"! He answered hugging her, she sighed, seeming content: "You're welcome". After a moment, they pulled apart: "Let me just put this in the oven". Gavin walked into the kitchen, put the pie in the oven and the beer and wine on the counter, Jane followed: "So, who exactly's coming"? "It's a surprise". Jane smiled excitedly: "I like surprises". After putting the pie in the oven, Gavin stood up again to face Jane: "Good, now how about I show you around"? "I'd like that".

Gavin showed Jane around his house: he showed her the garden, he showed her the living room and kitchen again, the bathroom, Nelson's room and his room. She seemed completely fascinated by the space, Gavin didn't understand why, it was just like any other house in any other neighbourhood, the garden wasn't even that big, it was an average, former student house: "What's up"? "Never seen a house as neat and tidy as mine"? He finally asked, Jane laughed: "Yeah, mine's a tip". "I'd love to see it sometime". Jane hid her face but he could see her cheeks turn faintly pink. Oh no… maybe I should've told her about Kate. He worried: "Jane, I think I should"- he paused: "What"? Jane pressed: "Nothing, it doesn't matter". He reassured with a smile, he bottled it yet again, he didn't want to hurt her, but he didn't want things to be weird and embarrassing if he was wrong, besides, she'd know soon enough and when she knew, he'd know: "You sure"? Jane asked, a concerned look on her face: "I'm sure". Gavin nodded: "Let's see if that pie's ready shall we"? He suggested, starting to walk back downstairs: "I'll be down in a minute, I just have to use the bathroom". "Ok, don't be long or I might end up eating the whole thing myself". Gavin mock warned, Jane chuckled, pointing a finger at him: "Don't you dare"! Gavin leaned closer to her and whispered: "Then be quick". Before racing downstairs to inspect the pie.

Once Gavin was safely occupied downstairs, I walked down the hall to the bathroom, shutting the door behind me. I took a moment to look around, I couldn't believe it! I was in Gavin Thomas's bathroom! I pulled out my phone from my handbag and took some pictures to go along with all the others I'd gathered, I took a selfie to commemorate the moment, I ran my hands across his walls, sat on his toilet, picked up their razors and tooth brushes, holding them close, I sighed, if only I knew which ones were Gavin's. I put them back in their places, took off my shoes and sat in his bathtub, I laid back, closed my eyes and basked in the triumph of that moment, I'd gotten so close to Gavin Thomas that I was sat in his bathtub! But there was more I wanted, much, much more, so I hopped out of the bathtub and began looking around for souvenirs. I couldn't take anything he'd notice was missing, I needed something subtle, there were a couple towels hung on the door, I ran my hands along them, wondering which one Gavin might've used to dry himself with, I had so many images running through my mind, but unfortunately I couldn't take either of them. I sighed in disappointment, pressed my face against both of them and breathed in their fresh, clean scent, I wondered where they kept their dirty stuff, I imagined what finding a pair of Gavin's used boxers would be like…. Wow… Ok focus Jane. I reminded myself, I continued searching until I came across some of their colognes, colognes, shower jells, deodorants etc. This was like a goldmine! I smelled a few different bottles until I came across the ones that smelled like Gavin, some were White musk@ for men bottles which made him smell like lavender and sandalwood. There were about three or four colognes that were his, yes! I thought, finally something I can keep! Sure, he might notice it was missing, but he had three others, he might just find it weird and assume he'd misplaced it or something. I opened my usefully roomy handbag and stashed the cologne inside: "Jane, I'm getting bored down here all by myself, what's taking you so long"?! I heard Gavin call from downstairs: "Sorry, lady problems"! I shouted back: "Errr, too much information thanks love"! I rolled my eyes, there was that word again, used in that jokey tone again, if only I could get him to mean it sooner than planned…. I chuckled loud enough for him to hear: "Well you did ask". He laughed back: "Alright, alright, just hurry up or they'll be no pie left". "K".

Honestly, i didn't care that Gavin might eat all the pie, I bought that as a gift for him after all, a gift and a distraction, I knew I'd need to keep him busy so I could update my collection. Besides, I knew he wouldn't actually eat all the pie, he'd probably feel bad and save me at least one slice, my Gavin was never the selfish type. I picked up a roll of their toilet paper and tore off a piece, storing it in my handbag along with Gavin's cologne. After a quick scan to make sure I'd put everything back properly, I put my shoes back on and opened the door quietly, careful not to let it make a sound. I snuck over to Gavin's room, gingerly opening and closing the door behind me. I let my eyes roam around, before taking a few more pictures and selfies. I let my hands travel across his walls, his CD collection, his chair, his desk, his laptop, his TV, his window, his wardrobe, his bed…. I sat on the edge of it, took my shoes off again, pulled down the soft burgundy duvet and climbed in, I laid back with a contented sigh, wow… I thought to myself, if someone had told me when I was 18, watching Gavin from across the room being all charming and smart and charismatic, that one day I'd be in his room, laying in his bed, while he sat downstairs eating a pie I'd bought him, I'd have laughed in their face! And yet, there I was! The only thing that could've made it better was if he was there with me. I turned over on my side and closed my eyes, pondering what it would be like to be wrapped in his arms, to feel his warm, soft lips on mine, to feel his hands run through my hair, I felt a chill shoot up and down my spine as I thought about his low voice whispering in my ear: I love you Jane, I love you, I want you, I need you…. I considered calling him up right then and there and saying and doing everything I'd ever dreamed of since that first day of class. But I knew better than that, I'd come way too far to let my enthusiasm derail this for me. I was pulled out of the fairytale abruptly when I heard Gavin call again: "Seriously Jane, are you planning a hostile takeover in there or something"?! "Sorry, I'm coming"! I yelled back, hoping he couldn't tell I'd relocated.

Crap, if I'm not quick he's gonna come looking for me! I hurried out of the bed, covered the duvet back over and raced around for a keepsake. Ok, ok, can't take a CD…. Pity, it would've been nice to listen to some of his favourite songs, it would've been something else to bond over, but he didn't have duplicates of anything, maybe I should've found out what kind of CD's he had in advance, I could've taken one and replaced it with a copy I'd bought. I went over to his wardrobe next, I needed a shirt he wouldn't miss, one he didn't wear very often, slim Pickings, they were all hung up, pristine and ready to go. I couldn't help running my hands along all his shirts, jeans, tracksuits, he had so much denim. I was about to give up the search when I came across a plain white shirt, stuffed at the back of his wardrobe, forgotten, perfect! It definitely didn't seam like he cared about that shirt particularly, but I did, I cared about everything he breathed on, let alone wore at one point. I opened my handbag again and poured some of Gavin's cologne onto the shirt. I closed my eyes, and inhaled the sweet scent, it was like I was holding him: "Gavin"… I whispered, smiling. Happy that I'd got my souvenirs, I put the cologne back in my handbag, folded the shirt and put that in as well, I was just going to shut the wardrobe, when I saw a stack of pillow cases, all different colours, multiple cases in different colours: some red, some grey, some white. I squealed in delight, this was a whole lot more than I'd bargained for! I reached up, grabbed one of the dark red pillow cases and added it to the spoils: "Jane, are you sure you're ok up there"?! He's so thoughtful and kind: "Yeah, I'm fine, I'll be down in a sec"! I quickly zipped up my handbag, shut the wardrobe, made sure everything was precisely the way I found it, put on my shoes and rushed downstairs, when I stepped into the living room, Gavin stood up, I could see he'd only eaten a couple slices of the pie, even better than i predicted, I smiled to myself, I know him so well: "What happened"? "You took forever"! Aw, he looks so worried bless him. "Yeah, sorry about that, my stomach's doing some strange things at the moment, like I said, it's that time of the month so, I'm not feeling the best". "Sorry to hear, can I get you something"? "I think I've got some painkillers somewhere"- "No, no I'll be fine I promise, just, maybe I'd better pass on that pie after all huh"? I chuckled, we both jumped slightly as the sound of a key turning in the door filled our ears, Gavin turned to me with an eager smile: "That's them"! He exclaimed, before leaping over to the door to greet who I guessed was The Nuisance and someone else.

A moment later and yep, Gavin was leading in none other than…. The nuisance! It was so hard not to laugh, I was finally coming face to face with my competitor for Gavin's attention, and this time, I would definitely remember. An even harder task would be trying not to call him "Nuisance" out loud instead of Nelson, figures his actual name started with the same letter. Beside him stood the blonde girl I saw at the club with Gavin and The Nuisance that time, she looked like one of those prissy, plucky popular in secondary school types, who were either so sugary sweet it just came off as fake and patronising and usually gave you a tooth ache, or who were straight up mean to your face and never held back, I didn't know which type I hated more. Eh, she can't be that bad if Gavin hangs out with her, I settled: "Jane, this is the guy I was telling you about". He put a friendly arm around The Nuisance as he introduced me: "Nelson this is Jane". The Nuisance shook my hand, then a look of recognition appeared on his face, oh no, he's not about to blow my cover is he? I panicked: "Jane"! "You look so familiar"! "Have we met"? He asked, I shook my head, relieved that I could just say no and that would most likely be the end of it, and it wasn't exactly a lie, I didn't remember ever meeting him: "No, don't think so". "Oh". He answered, seaming a tad disappointed, he turned to Gavin: "Does she look familiar to you Gav, or is it just me"? "No I thought so too, apparently she just has one of those faces". The Nuisance studied me as if trying to piece together a puzzle, who does he think he is trying to catch me out?!: "is that true"? I tittered: "Like I could lie to Gavin".

"Aw, I wish you looked familiar to me". The blonde girl piped up: "You seem like such a sweetheart"! Gavin smiled at her before taking his arm from off The Nuisance, and slowly placing it around her, his face got all serious, then it turned into a look of nervousness, like he was hesitant to introduce her, oh no, no, please don't tell me she's- "Jane, this, is Kate, my girlfriend". I froze, I couldn't move, I couldn't speak, I couldn't hear anything else but that awful word, I wanted to throw up, to scream, to cry, my heart throbbed, I could've sworn I heard it crack in two, still I plastered on my biggest, brightest, most sugary sweet smile as she greeted me: "Jaaaaaane"! "It's so nice to finally meet you"! "Gavin talks about you a lot". She told me, before wrapping me in a bone crushing hug, ugh I wanted to boil my skin off right at that exact moment and make her drink it through a straw while Gavin watched! Get the hell off me! I yelled internally: "it's true, he does". The Nuisance added, a hint of scepticism in his voice as I patted Kate's back, hard, hard enough to hurt a little, but not hard enough for her to be able to tell I was doing it deliberately: "Shut up, no I don't"! I heard Gavin protest: "You really do". The Nuisance argued back good naturedly: "You're so embarrassing"! Gavin replied, playfully shoving The Nuisance's shoulder, I continued to endure the hug, all the while patting Kate's back and trying to come up with a nickname I could give her too: "Oh, firm hand you've got there". She stated, as she finally let go of me: I gave her a wicked grin: "Well, at least that's what Gavin tells me". I just couldn't help myself, Kate's punchable, plastic little smile faded and I saw Gavin wince a little, good, suffer, you deserve it. I thought: "Anyway, can I get anyone a drink, so we can get this party started"?! Gavin redirected, his smile as fake as mine had been a moment ago: "Actually, I think I'm gonna go". "Oh, what"? "You can't"! Kate stressed: "Yeah, we were really looking forward to getting to know you". The Nuisance chimed in, sounding more put out that he wouldn't get the chance to scrutinise me more than anything else: "Another time, I promise". I answered with a smile, turning to leave: "please Jane, stay, just for a bit, I've been dying for you all to bond". "Like I said earlier, I'm not feeling that great, I think I just need to sleep it off". "You can sleep here"! Gavin pleaded: "Sleep here and I'll come get you in an hour or something, you don't have to go". I tensed up slightly , is he offering what I think he's offering?! Ordinarily, I'd jump at the chance to be back in his bed, but something changed, I couldn't be in his house while she was there, the thought of it made me wanna throw both of them through a window and trample all over their dead bodies with my highest pair of heels, I shook my head: "I can't, it was nice to meet you both though". I hurried for the door, yanked it open and swiftly made my exit, only to hear Gavin call after me as he jogged to catch up: "Jane wait"! We stopped a little ways from his front door: "I'm sorry, I knew I should've told you about Kate, I just"- "it's fine Gavin, you don't owe me anything, we're just friends right"? I tried to keep the shakiness out of my voice as I fought the emotions threatening to take control over my every action, Gavin sighed: "that's not really how you feel is it"? "Course it is"! I lied, a huge, fake smile spread across my face: "Then why are you leaving so soon"? "I told you, I'm not feeling well". "Come back inside and rest for a bit then, why are you leaving if that's all this is"? I paused, I didn't have a good enough answer for that, if I said I just wanted to be on my own he'd still say it was because of Kate, sometimes his perceptiveness really got in the way, much like a certain blonde I was beginning to loathe with every fibre of my being: "Jane, if you wanna talk about"- "oh my gosh Gavin are you really that arrogant"?! I snapped, unable to control my rage a nanosecond longer: "I said I'm sick alright"?! "Not everything in the whole world is about you, you stuck up, self centred, spineless, pretentious brat"! I caught a glimpse of Gavin's stunned expression before legging it back home, it was cold, dark, I felt humiliated and all I wanted was to get as far away from him as fast as possible.

As soon as I got home, I shut the door and found myself sliding down it, I sank to the floor and i cried, I cried, I punched the leg of the side table beside my door, I cried harder because my hand hurt, I was a mess. I cried for what felt like hours, I cried so hard my throat ached, my throat ached, my hand ached, my heart ached, gosh even my ears ached, why was I so loud?! Ugh, I seriously hated this side of myself. He has a girlfriend! How could he have a girlfriend?! How could I not know he has a girlfriend?! I never saw them meet up anywhere apart from the club, and they didn't even kiss! Not once! There were no posts about her on social media, unless he did all those "I love my girlfriend" posts on Facebook and that's why he didn't add me. He never once mentioned her to me, how could someone with a girlfriend not talk about them incessantly?! He knew we were getting closer that's why, he knew we were getting closer and that it was wrong and that's why he didn't tell me. Ugh, I couldn't believe this was the guy I spent six years pining over! I had a whole bag full of things I'd taken from his house, a phone full of photo's he didn't know I took, a drawer full of treasures from our time together, I felt so embarrassed! Maybe mum was right, maybe I do need help. I suddenly began to feel extremely homesick, what was I even doing here? I didn't know anyone here apart from that selfish swine, I didn't have a job, I didn't have anything here. I thought about calling my brother and apologising, telling him what happened and getting him to take me away from here, but then he'd probably get Big Fat Egg Donor involved and I really, really didn't wanna deal with that manipulative shrew along with everything else. Nope, somehow I'd have to make a life here for myself, without Gavin? The thought scared me so much it made me cry even more! Those two years after uni were hard enough, at least back then I was planning on seeing him again, but now? The plan, much like my heart had been shattered.

I hated him for making me feel like this, how could he lead me on like that?! Was that what he was gonna tell me earlier? But instead of doing the decent thing and warning me, he chose to ambush me in front of his nosy, annoying friend! Ugh, I hated the coward so much! I thought about cutting up his shirt, putting the ruins into a blender, pouring his stupid, foul smelling cologne all over it, making it into a smoothy, mixing the smoothy into a homemade apple pie and making him eat it off the floor with everyone he's ever tried to impress watching! I thought about cutting Kate up into a million little pieces and making him eat them off the floor, toenails first! What did he even see in her anyway?! She looked like one of those dumb bimbos who didn't know the difference between pie crust and a pie chart! What would a smart, educated guy like Gavin want with a vain, looks obsessed dits like Kate?! Maybe it was her fake boobs and fake lips and fake teeth and fake eyelashes and fake eyebrows and fake noes and fake everything! Ugh, didn't realise he was that shallow! Maybe I should get plastic surgery so I can be as fake and plastic as that walking barbie doll if that's what Gavin likes so much! I thought bitterly. I wondered how long they might've been together. Years maybe? Maybe Gavin was one of those two timers, even if we hadn't done anything physical yet, it was unequivocally emotional. Maybe Kate wasn't the villain of the piece after all, she didn't know anything about Gavin and I. Maybe I had a duty as a fellow woman to warn her, I considered marching right back over there and doing just that! Ugh, how could I have gotten him so wrong?! Maybe he changed? It had been two years. I certainly wasn't the same shy, hiding in the shadows person I was back then.

Or maybe not, maybe they'd only just met, maybe Gavin had been talking to us both and was trying to decide who he liked more, maybe she was the reason he wouldn't kiss me in the park that day. That made way more sense than Gavin just being a pig I'd gotten completely wrong. I sighed, trying to pull myself together. I should've known better, in what world does a guy like Gavin ever go for a girl like me? Cool people attract cool people right? And that's what happened, and no amount of confidence or craftiness was gonna change anything. Now what?

I had one of the best dreams that night! 20 best ways to kill Kate! Well, not 20 exactly, but they were still great ways: I burnt her alive, I strangled her and watched the life drain from her hard, hollow face, I pushed her down the longest flight of stairs I've ever seen! I filled her coffee with poison, all while Gavin watched! I laughed to myself as I remembered how horrified he looked. But unfortunately, I had to wake up. Ugh, I could've dreamed about eradicating that vapid tart forever! My phone kept vibrating on my nightstand, but I didn't bother unlocking it, just in case by some miracle it was Gavin. This was the one time I really, really didn't feel like talking to him. So instead I stretched myself out in bed, and began thinking of clever nicknames I could give to that troll: The fake, Fake Kate, Faky Katy, Kate The Fake Who's Soul I'd Like To Break, Kate The Fake Who's Life I'd Like To Take, Little Miss Plastic Face, Eradikate, Blonde Dense, Sutherton's Brainless Bimbo Barbie… damn I was on a roll! I supposed Gavin would need a nickname too now, spineless pig sounded about right. I smiled to myself and decided to get up and make some breakfast, leaving my phone on the nightstand.

I was pretty proud of myself by the end of that day, I did some real, non made up errands, went grocery shopping, I even spent some time looking for jobs online! I figured I'd try to venture out of the science world a little, expand my horizons, I dabbled in writing when I was a kid, so I looked into journalism. Maybe if things worked out I could write a few science articles, it was somewhat refreshing not constantly being plagued with thoughts of Gavin. And most importantly, I didn't touch my phone! It remained right there on my nightstand where I left it that morning, but come on, it's 2021 and we're living in the age of technology, how long was that supposed to last? I flopped down onto my bed and finally unlocked my phone to a sea of texts from Gavin, with a deep breath, I opened the message app:

Message from: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
DEC 5th 8:00AM:
Hey, can we talk?

Message from: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
DEC 5th 8:10AM
Jane please! I'm really sorry about yesterday, can I please explain?

Message from: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
DEC 5th 8:25AM
At the risk of sounding spineless, self centred, stuck up and…. What else did you call me?? Pretentious?? LOL clearly you're upset about Kate, please can we just talk like grown ups??

Message from: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
DEC 5th 8:50AM:
K well… I need to get to work, please text me, or meet me at the café at about half 1 so I can treat you to lunch and explain things, have a good morning, hope to see you soon 🙂

Message from: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
DEC 5th 13:46PM:
Not coming huh??

Message from: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
DEC 5th 14:20PM:
Look, I get that you're mad but seriously?! The silent treatment?! What are we?! 8?! You can't seriously be THIS upset! We had 1 moment! That's it! It's not like I screwed you and didn't call you the next day, or screwed you and then sprung Kate on you! I get why you're mad but geez! Overreacting at least a little aren't ya??!

Message from: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
DEC 5th 17:10PM:
Hey 😔 I'm really sorry about that last text, can't we just sort this out?? I really missed talking to you today, 😞 I feel so bad about everything, but you not letting me explain is pretty crappy too you know??

What was he trying to do?! Hurt me? Make me angry? Trying to rub it in? Because it was working! I was sad, mad and my face well and truly rubbed in, so much for being in a good mood huh? As if on cue I heard the door knock, that was weird, I didn't have any friends or family round here, and I hadn't ordered anything. A neighbour? I asked myself. I went to my window, and was shocked to find Gavin stood at my door! What is he playing at?! All these mixed signals are gonna give me whiplash! How did he even know where to find me?! I heard another knock on the door, before faintly hearing his voice: "Jane… look, I know this is weird, and I'm not even 100 per cent sure this is your house, but I saw you cross a couple roads away from mine when you left yesterday, and that time after the park when we went our separate ways". I moved further towards the door to my room so I could hear him better: "The house number… well, it's more of a stab in the dark if I'm honest". I heard him laugh nervously: "So I'm either making a very heartfelt gesture, or I'm completely embarrassing myself". He sighed: "Which, is, probably how you felt yesterday, please can we just talk"? "Come on Jane I feel so guilty, and when I feel guilty, I don't give up until I've sorted whatever it is that needs to be sorted". He paused: "Sorry, that sounds really selfish doesn't it"? Yep: "I guess I am selfish, and stuck up" Yup: "I'm sorry, I don't mean to be, I really do care about you Jane, I wouldn't be here potentially making a fool out of myself if I didn't". There was another pause, I didn't know what to do, on one hand, it was kind of nice that he was here, making an effort, part of me craved to hear him say more, but what could he possibly say to make this better? He still had a girlfriend I knew nothing about, he still led me on. However, curiosity and the nagging need to be near him got the better of me, and it'd been a few seconds since he made any indication he was still there. So slowly I began to walk toward the front door. When I got there seemingly by magic, I heard another sigh: "K, I'm gonna try something, this may or may not work, you could be in a far off room, or not in at all, or nowhere near your phone, but I figure if this isn't your place whoever's place it was would've come and told me off by now so"…. A third pause, then all of a sudden, my phone started to vibrate, I looked down at the screen to see it was Gavin: "Jane"? "Oh my gosh, I can't believe that actually worked"! I heard him laugh in disbelief: "I can hear your phone vibrating, please, 5 minutes that's all I'm asking". Moderately frustrated by his persistence, and how easy it was for me to cave into him, I moved toward the door and pulled it open: "What"?! I demanded, not even bothering to hide my anger, he laughed why is he laughing?! This is so beyond funny it's ridiculous! "Hello to you too, now that we've got that over with, can we please just talk"? I stepped aside to let him in, closing the door behind him, he walked into the living room and I followed: "Nice place, why didn't you tell me we were basically neighbours"? Why didn't you tell me about Kate? I shrugged, his attention was then drawn to the bandage on my hand: "What happened to your hand"? "Oh, I just, burned myself making bacon". Gavin chuckled: "Clumsy". "What do you want Gavin"? He sighed heavily, sitting on the arm of the chair across from where I was standing: "I want you to be honest with me, you're upset about Kate aren't you"? I stayed silent, I couldn't admit how upset I was, but my actions had all but given it away regardless, what was even the point of any of this? "Jane, we can't sort any of this if you won't tell me how you really feel". No way, there's no way I'm giving him that satisfaction, just so what? He can tell me these last three months meant nothing to him?! No, no way!

He swallowed, then looked down at the floor: "That evening at the park, you wanted it to be a date didn't you"? I looked down at the floor too, my silence the only answer he needed: "I did too". I heard him say softly, so soft in fact, I was almost certain I was hallucinating, my head shot up, and I stared at him, dumbstruck: "Wh- what"? He lifted his head too, meeting my eye: "I like you Jane, of course I do"! "You're sweet and fun and funny and kind, you're smart, you're warm and generous, beautiful, you completely get me"… Oh Gavin…. Baby of course I do! I stepped closer to him: "Then, why Kate"? "Why are we even having this conversation"? He sighed again: "I'm sorry, I know I should've told you about her, we met online and started talking a couple weeks before I met you, when I told you I didn't wanna ruin our friendship, I meant that, I only didn't tell you because I didn't know where things were gonna go with Kate and i didn't wanna hurt you over nothing, I also didn't wanna put my foot in it, can you imagine if I told you about Kate and it turned out you weren't interested in me in that way"? "It would've been awkward and embarrassing for both of us". "So you don't think me asking you if we were on a date was a clue no"? Well, at the time I hoped it wasn't but now? I mean really Gavin, you're supposed to be smart! "You said you were happy being friends"! He defended: "You were about to kiss me"! I pointed out. He lowered his head once more: "I know, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that, I just got so caught up in the moment, got kinda lost in your eyes"…. His cheeks turned slightly red as he said that, as he gave a week chuckle : "And you know… all that other romantic crap". He rolled his eyes at himself, I stepped even closer to him and took his hand, lacing our fingers together, My hand felt all tingly, just like it did when I first shook his hand that day in the café, it was so, unbelievably magical: "i get lost in your eyes too, all the time, and your smile". I whispered, stroking the back of his hand with my thumb: "Feel like this when you're with Kate does it"? His breath hitched, then he slowly slipped his hand out of mine, that was probably the single worst feeling ever.

"It does, I'm sorry, I really do like you Jane but, I really like Kate too, it wouldn't be fair to just decide "Oh, Sorry Kate, changed my mind, I don't wanna see you anymore I've met someone better". But I am! I am better than her! No one'll ever love you like I love you! I wanted to yell at him: "I mean how would you feel if this were the other way around"? I hesitated, he had a point, he was trying to do the right thing as always, he was so considerate, always thinking of others. If only I could get him to consider me and only me: "You understand right"? I nodded slowly: "I guess, you're a good person Gavin". I affirmed, glad that I hadn't gotten him all wrong after all, shame on me for doubting him: "I try". He smiled: "So er, when did you like, you know, make it official"? "About a week ago". "Oh". Well… that was surprising, he laughed: "You didn't seriously think I'd just been stringing you both along for months did you"? Guess it was my turn to feel guilty: "No, course not"! I lied, he raised a suspicious eyebrow: "You should know me better than that by now Jane". "I know, I'm sorry". I confessed, looking down at the floor: "I'll forgive you this time". He joked: "I just, really hope we can still be mates, I really like having you around". I did too, I know I said it was nice not to think about him for once, and the two years we were apart were just about bearable, but a whole lifetime without him? Unthinkable: "Course". I replied: "I really like having you around too". "Thanks, and i'd, greatly appreciate it if you and Kate could be friends too". Over my dead, cold body! Or preferably her's: "I don't know Gavin…"please Jane, I've always wanted the four of us to hang out, you know like one big group of misfits". He laughed, is that honestly the way he sees himself and Kate? Misfits? He wouldn't know where to start, neither would his perfect, pink, plastic playmate. I folded my arms: "You really expected someone you suspected had feelings for you to be bosom buddies with your girlfriend"?

"I was kinda hoping to be wrong about your feelings and everything would just, I don't know, work out"? "So what"? "You ambushed me like that to see how I'd react"? Gavin put his head in his hands: "it sounds a lot worse when you put it like that". He looked back up at me: "Can't we call it… hopeful naivety"? I smiled despite myself, he was so cute: "I don't think I can watch you guys together". I admitted: "Obviously I wouldn't rub it in, I just… Nelson and Kate are both so important to me…. It would be really great to be around all three of you, together". I blushed: "I'm important to you then"? "Of course you are". My heartbeat sped up, I couldn't believe he was saying all this stuff, I wanted to leap Into his arms and never let go! But thankfully i managed to contain myself: "I'll try, for you". I relented, the smile he gave me in that moment was everything: "Thanks Jane, and listen if you need me to tell Kate about us then"- "It's fine, no need to freak her out over a non starter". That glorious smile was back, wider this time, I could've looked at that thing for an eternity: "You're the best". He answered: "I know". I sassed, he rolled his eyes before rubbing his hands against his lap: "So, you gonna give me a house tour or what"? I showed Gavin around the house like he'd done for me the day before, happy that everything was intact once again. I'd gotten my mojo back, my purpose was re-realised and now that I was sure Kate was the only reason Gavin and I weren't together, my mission was clear! Get rid of Kate! I didn't know how I'd do it, and the plan had been slightly altered, but I'd do it! I'd get rid of Kate and Gavin would be all mine!

Christmas and New Year's came and went in a flash with me trying to act like I was Kate's bestest friend ever! It was quite sad actually, had it not been for the whole Gavin situation, I reckon I'd have tolerated her more. She seemed to really like me which was a novelty, not many girls did, apparently I was "too intense". But Kate didn't think so, mind you, that girl was intense enough for the both of us. I was working on trying to get her away from Gavin, I did think about killing her, but that would be a lot of work, plus, there were far less brutal ways I could get her to drop Gavin or vise versa. So I slowly started planting the seeds that The Nuisance had a thing for her, I also dropped little hints to The Nuisance about Kate: whenever Kate complimented him, I'd drop a subtle hint that maybe she was flirting with him, I told Kate that The Nuisance really liked a new perfume she was trying out, just little things. I still can't tell if it's working, their definitely looking at each other differently these days, but you know, if I get too bored waiting for something to happen between them, I can always go back to plan A. We had a small get together before they went off to spend Christmas with their families: I bought Gavin a snow globe I saw in the window of this cute antique shop down town, the background looked like the park we spent the evening in a couple months ago. I worried it might be a bit awkward, but it was so beautiful I just had to buy it for him. He loved it! Said it was one of his favourite gifts! His perfect face lighting up whenever he shook the snow globe's been the only thing I see every time I close my eyes ever since. He bought me the most gorgeous, sea blue dress, it came down to just below my knees, and hugged all the right places. It was made of velvet and had tiny, miniature straps. I wore it all the time! I wore it to Gavin's New Year's Eve party, I wore it around town, I wore it when I went grocery shopping, I wore it around the house, I even wore it to bed along with Gavin's shirt, which of course I poured his cologne on, I also put his pillow case over one of my pillows, I was surrounded by him! Just like I always wanted! Gavin had noticed one of his shirts was missing and the cologne but didn't make a big deal out of it, just as I expected, I knew him better than anyone! Including Kate, or "Eradikate" as I decided on calling her. Her Christmas presents were far less impressive: Gavin bought her a necklace that looked as cheap as the lipstick she wears, she got him a pair of cufflinks. He'd never admit it, but I knew he liked my gift better. She got me some hoop earrings, I still haven't worn them, the idea made me wanna chop my earlobes off and feed them to the birds! I got her a box of quality streets, I'll be honest I wasn't even trying, I gave her some speel about being too busy with work to buy anything better, she seemed grateful for the chocolates though, it was one of the only times I basked in her simplicity. The Nuisance bought her a leather handbag to go along with her apparently plentiful collection, she got him cufflinks to match Gavin's, I'll concede it was a cute idea, if not a tad cheesy. The Nuisance and Gavin both got each other some vinyls, they'd been trying to start a collection of old school albums. I spent a whole evening in Gavin's room a week ago listening to some of them with him, but unfortunately Eradikate was there too. Gavin sat in the middle of us on his bed, an arm draped around her like it had been glued there. But he did his best not to rub it in my face like he promised. The Nuisance bought me some perfume, I think he's beginning to lose some of his suspicions about me, maybe he's just gotten used to me, but I'm still monitoring him, just in case he proves a potential threat again. I got him a joke book, we could all use a bit more humour in our lives right?

February came around, I'd been doing a few articles for TIME magazine, getting closer to Gavin every day, life was good. I woke up one morning to the group chat Gavin insisted we made, it was nice being part of a group, no matter how short lived it was destined to be, I've always wanted to be part of a group chat:

Message from: THE BOYS 👊 GROUP CHAT:
Gavin❤️❤️❤️
FEB 5th 7:50AM:
Who's up???

Nuisance😩😩😩
Me!! Gotta catch that worm!!! 🐛

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
🙄 yeah I know you're up Nelson, I was talking to the girls!

Nuisance😩😩😩
LOL

YOU:
LOL Me!!! I'm up!!! 🙋‍♀️

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Hey 🙂 how'd you sleep??

Amazing, I dreamed about you as always. I thought to myself with a smile, to think, before the year's out, I'll be able to text him that! Man, I can't wait to eridakate!

YOU:
Pretty good thanks 🙂 you??

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Yeah, good thanks 🙂

Nuisance😩😩😩
Er, I slept well too thanks for asking guys!!!

Ugh, and The Nuisance strikes again!

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
LMAO!! Shup Nels! You're so annoying!!!

Nuisance😩😩😩
Kmt LOL I'm not annoying, you lot are annoying!!

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Jane, who's more annoying me or him???

I laughed, ah, an opportunity to tell The Nuisance he was being a nuisance without actually having to tell him he was being a nuisance, no matter how much I might have wanted to.

YOU:
Definitely him LOL 🙂

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Raaaaayyyyy!!!! 🙌 🙌 see?! I win!!!

Nuisance😩😩😩
Kmt, you're SO biased Jane!!

Eh, maybe a little I reflected.

YOU:
LOL, how'd you work that one out then??

Nuisance😩😩😩
Well ovs you're gonna stick up for your mate!

YOU:
LMAO, I'm your mate too Nels 🙂

I pandered.

Nuisance😩😩😩
Yeah only coz of Gavin

YOU:
Aww, come on that's not true!! 🫂 🫂🫂

I lied, I felt kinda bad for lying, but he was way too annoying. It was nice that Gavin had a BFF, but he'd never be mine, not really, and if he got in the way of Gavin and I to a significant degree well, he'd have to be eradikated too.

Nuisance😩😩😩
LOL get off me fool!

Ugh how dare he!

YOU:
😳 how dare you respond so harshly to my hugs!

Nuisance😩😩😩
LOL, aw, I apologise! 🙂🫂🫂🫂

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
LOL we all friends again now then??

Nuisance😩😩😩
Suppose, LOL anyway was there a reason for this gathering or are you just checking the register??

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
🙄 oh I'm sorry, didn't realise talking to us was such a burden!!

YOU:
LMAO!! Truss! I think I'll take my hugs back after all actually!

Nuisance😩😩😩
LOL sorry buds, some of us really do have things to be getting on with you know??! LMAO!!

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
🙄 LOL k well, I won't keep you from your very busy schedule for long, but I do have news!!! 🙂🙂🙂

YOU:
Ooooohhh do tell!!

Nuisance😩😩😩
Yeah man, don't keep us in suspense!!!

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Uh uh uh no can do! LOL we have to wait for Kate first! 🙂

Ugh, what do we have to wait for that basket case for?!

YOU:
Aw no, Gavin please just tell us now!!!

Nuisance😩😩😩
Yeah come on Gav, you've got us all excited now!

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
LOL it wouldn't be fair on Kate! Just be patient, I'm sure she'll be online any minute now…. 🙂

Well, luckily for him I'd become quite skilled in the art of patience.

Nuisance😩😩😩
LOL you know I could literally just walk into your room right now and force it out of you right??!

Haha yeah right you and what army?! Gavin's 10 times as strong as you are! I mentally defended.

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
LOL!! Yeah right, you and what army tool?!?!?!?!

I laughed to myself, that's my Gavin! I mused with pride.

YOU:
LOL everyone calm down, we're supposed to be bros remember??! 👊

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
LOL I resent that! I also resent being in a group chat named "The boys" LOL I am not a boy thank you very much!!

Nuisance😩😩😩
Raaaaaayyyy!!! FINALLY SHE SHOWS HER FACE!!! 👏👏👏👏👏

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Wait, back up a sec! What's wrong with my group chat name?!?!?!

Nuisance😩😩😩
LOL yeah! Exactly! It just means you're part of the gang you know??? One of the guys!! 👊

YOU:
I'm a girl and I'm not complaining 🙂

I joined in.

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
LOL I don't wanna be lumped in as just "one of the guys"! I should be special! I am Gavin's gf after all 🙂 I want an elevated position!! LOL 🙂

Ugh! The stupid, dumb, entitled, ugly, walking pogo stick! How does Gavin even put up with her?! I wondered. She's lucky I'm letting her have him this long!

YOU:
LOL Geez 🙄 so entitled! LOL

I pretended to joke.

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
LOL it's not entitlement, it's simply me exercising my gf rights!! 🙂🙂🙂

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
LOL right, and what would you rather it be called then my sweet???

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
Hmm… 🤔 how about "the boys and my very special girl"??!!

YOU:
😐 gag 🤢 🤮

Nuisance😩😩😩
LOL ikr! Someone pass me the sick bucket! 🪣

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
🙄 jealous assholes!!

I laughed, jealous of her?! Who did she think she was?!

YOU:
😆 😂 😹 😆 😂 😹!!!! Baby hell would have to freeze over TWICE before I reached such a low point in life as to be jealous of YOU! 🤣 😂 🤪

I told her, wow that felt SO good!

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
LOL wow who rattled your cage??!! If you want a bf so bad all you had to do was ask!! I know loads of people who might be interested in doing a good deed for the year! 😛

Ugh! I was so angry I could've reached into that screen and ripped her throat right out of her big, fat, gaping mouth! She's SO lucky I thought twice about killing her!

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Ladies! Ladies! Play nice!

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
She started it!

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Come on babe you know Jane and Nels were only kidding!!

Ugh I hated it when he called her that!

Nuisance😩😩😩
LOL yeah come on Kate, you know it's all in good fun!!

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
Yeah well Jane didn't have to make that "cold day in hell" comment did she?! What exactly is so wrong with wanting to be like me??!

Erm…. Only everything imaginable in the whole world!

YOU:
LOL it's called friendly banter! Lighten up Kate! Geez! LOL 🙂🙂🙂

I lied.

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
Hmm… If you say so….

YOU:
LOL, come on Kate we're besties aren't we??!! Why would I have been serious??

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
LOL good point, sorry it's just hard to tell with you sometimes 🙂

Haha, oh I bet it is you dumb sack of potatoes!

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
We all good now??

YOU:
Yes Gavin all good! Now will you PLEASE tell us your news??!!?

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Kate??

Ugh! Why does he always have to wait for stupid Eradikate's seal of approval?! What is he anyway?! Her dog?! I'd never treat him like that! I can't WAIT to free him from her!

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
LOL I'm good Gav! Tell us already! I'm like dying here!!

Haha, I wish!

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Haha, ok, ok 🙂 I have an interview at ST John's next week!! Just found out yesterday! 🙂🙂🙂 🎉 🎉 🎉!!!

Wow, this was amazing! Just as I was starting to take off in my own career! This truly was gonna be our year! It may not have been what he'd always dreamed of doing but it was something, a step in the right direction, an outlet for his scientific brain to feel useful, he was EXACTLY like me! I couldn't wait to share all of his successes with him! Of course, when I went to congratulate him, Eradikate beat me to it:

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
OMG GAVJN THAT'S AMAAAAAAAZINNNNGGGG!!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️!!!! WELL DONE BABY!! I'M SOOOO PROUD OF YOU!!! 👏👏👏👏👏 🎉 🎉 🎉 🎉 🎉

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
LOL take it down a notch babe! It's just an interview, I haven't actually gotten the job yet!

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
It's still impressive!! You've worked SO hard! Besides, you're totally gonna get it! I can feeeel it!!

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
LOL well, thank you baby!!! 🙂🙂🙂

YOU:
Yeah Gavin that's amazing!! Well done! 🙂

I wanted to say much more than that! But well, you know….

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Thanks Jane!! 🙂 I appreciate it!! 🙂

Nuisance😩😩😩
Yeah mate that's fantastic! Congrats!! 👊

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Cheers Nels!! 🍺

Nuisance😩😩😩
We should totally celebrate!! Let's go clubbing tonight or something!

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
LOL isn't the time for celebration when I've actually got the job??

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
No way! You gotta celebrate EVERY victory! Even the seemingly small ones!

Nuisance😩😩😩
Exactly! Besides when was the last time we all partied together?!?!?!

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
LOL we literally just had a New Years party!

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
Gavin that was over a month ago!!

YOU:
Yeah Gavin! Let's celebrate! 🙂

Now I hated to agree with that dumb knock off Pamala Anderson wannabe, but I saw an opportunity here….

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
LOL ok, ok if it'll shut everyone up! Let's do it!!

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
Yaaaay!! I get off work about 8, where shall we meet??

Nuisance😩😩😩
Yeah I'm off at about 7, shall we meet at the club we went to last time?? You've not been there with us yet have you Jane??

Well technically I had but….

YOU:
No I haven't, can someone send me the address plz???

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
I've got a better idea! What if we all meet up together, like the girls get ready together and the guys get ready together, might be nice for you guys to bond one on one!! And that way we can all get pumped up for the evening!!

Hmm… by myself with Eridakate huh??….

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
OMG yeah!! Girls evening!! We can totally pre game!!

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
What do you think Jane??

Sounded great! Sounded like a huge opportunity to put things in motion… that night, I'd get Eradikate out of the way (temporarily for the time being) get Gavin on his own, and finally draw out exactly how much he wanted me…

You:
Sounds good! Count me in! I'll send you my address later Kate!!

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
Great!! 👍 thanks hun!!!

Ugh gag again!

Nuisance😩😩😩
Yay!! Sounds good!! So see everyone later??

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Yup! See you all later! Say about half 9??

Nuisance😩😩😩
Works for me!! 👍

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
Sounds good!! Be at yours at about 20 to 9 is that cool Jane???

It's absolutely perfect!

YOU:
Sounds good!! See you then 🙂

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
See ya!!! 👋

Nuisance😩😩😩
Till then men!!! 👊

Eradikate🔪🔪🔪
🙄

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Lol See ya later guys!!!

YOU:
🙂

Before I could put my phone down and make a very important trip, my phone buzzed again, it was Gavin:

Message from: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Feb 5th 8:00AM
What was that?!

What??

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
You know what Jane, that stunt with Kate! I thought you were gonna try to get along!

Oh if only he knew just how much I'd been tolerating that moving mannequin!

LOL Gavin! I have been trying! I've been nothing but friendly ever since you told me about her, like I said before it was a joke! Is that why you wanted us to get ready together?? Coz you want us to "get on better"??

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
…I'm gonna CHOOSE to believe that, but it didn't sound like it….

It was! LOL why?? Do you WANT me to be jealous of her??

I teased, hoping he'd say yes but knowing he probably wouldn't… I couldn't WAIT for that night!

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Course not! LOL all I want is for all of us to get on, no awkwardness, no weirdness, no snide comments….

He should've thought about that before he forced us to be friends! Luckily for him, I was good at keeping up appearances:

LOL like I said Gav, it was just a joke! I love Kate! She's the best!

Ew, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little!

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
LOL alright, alright you don't have to oversell it, I know you're only doing this for me 🙂

Good, glad he recognises:

Haha, don't you forget it bub!

Gavin❤️❤️❤️
Haha, I won't 🙂 thanks Jane, see you tonight??

See you!!! 🙂🙂🙂

20 to 9 came soon enough and Eradikate was knocking on my door, ugh I was definitely gonna have to disinfect everything she touched later: "hiiiiiii"! "ahhh"! She squealed, hugging me tight again. Ugh can I boil my skin off and make her drink it yet? "Hi Kate". I replied, smiling, she finally set me free of her nauseating hug: "I bought pre party party drinks"! She told me excitedly as she passed me the bag they came in: "Great, come in"! I ushered, closing the door behind her and leading her into the kitchen: "You look nice". She commented as I poured the first glass of what I was sure would be many (for her at least) I poured myself a glass too, it's a shame I wasn't planning on getting as legless as I might otherwise have. I needed my wits about me tonight, I made a note to plan a real night out one day soon, one where I could afford to let loose a little: "Thanks". I replied with a smile, passing her a glass: "Cheers". She said, clinking her glass with mine and taking a swig, I did the same: "You look nice too by the way". I lied politely. She looked basic, little black dress, black heels and handbag to match, she didn't even bother styling her hair, it just remained blonde, lifeless and dangly as always: "Thanks". She smiled oblivious as ever: "So how was your day"? She asked, taking another sip of the wine she'd brought: "Yeah, not bad, the Magazine's really taking off, you"? I asked, I hated these little pleasantries, like I really cared about some guy complaining about a refund or whatever.

"Aw, that's good, I'm glad things are going well". I smiled: "Thanks". "Oh, I red your latest article about protecting the environment and how a lot of people still don't understand how serious things are getting by the way". Wow, I'm not gonna lie that's the tiniest bit impressive, didn't think so much knowledge could fit into that little p brain of hers: "Yeah"? "What did you think"? I asked, intrigued: "Oh I totally agree"! "I'm constantly littering and things and forgetting how bad it is"! I suppressed the stifling urge to roll my eyes, and smiled encouragingly at her instead: "Well at least you recognise the issue, hey thanks for reading by the way, you didn't have to". She gave my arm a rub, I still cringed internally but not as aggressively as normal: "What are friends for right"? "I mean, we are friends right"? "After this morning I"- "Kate I told you, that was a joke". She nodded with a smile: "Ok". Part of me felt a little guilty, she was being so nice and sweet, maybe if I just talked to her about Gavin… I found myself thinking. I was dragged out of my thoughts as Kate spoke up again: "You really like all that sciency stuff don't you"? I shrugged, trying to downplay my passion for it, just in case it got back to Gavin and he started asking questions. I couldn't let him find anything out until I was ready: "I guess". "Gavin likes all that stuff too, he wanted to be a scientist but things didn't quite pan out that way". She took a deep breath: "Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of him for getting this teaching interview, but sometimes I can't help feeling like he's settling you know"? I nodded, our first real moment of relatability: "I know". She sighed, putting that sugary smile back on her face: "Still, this is his night, and if he's happy"…. She raised her glass, waiting for me to finish her sentence: "We're happy for him". I smiled genuinely at her for the first time, my own glass raised: "Cheers". She said clinking our glasses together before we both took hearty gulps, she sighed again: "My day was ok I guess". She continued: "Oh, there was this one guy who wanted me to model this skirt he was looking at for his wife, kept complaining I wasn't wearing it right or something". She recounted, I laughed sincerely: "Surely there's only one way to wear a skirt right"? She laughed too: "Exactly"! "But apparently I wasn't modelling it well enough or whatever". She rolled her eyes, taking a longer swig this time, I giggled: "Men are weird". "Tell me about it"! Kate replied, she took another gulp of wine and I suddenly had the urge to tell her to pace herself, or try to keep up with her, maybe I need a new plan? "Hey, why do you never wear the earrings I bought you"? She asked unexpectedly, starting to slouch a little: "I wear them"! I defended falsely. Ugh as if I didn't feel bad enough: "No you don't"! "I've seen you in that dress three times now"! "But I never see you in the earrings"! "They're too special to wear just anywhere". I lied, hating myself for it all of a sudden: "Wear them tonight"! "Please"? "I wanna see how you look in them". I decided to humour her, how bad could it be? I reasoned.

Before I knew it we were in my room, Kate watching me try on her earrings for the first time, I also decided to wear the perfume The Nuisance bought me, because why not right? Something from Kate, The Nuisance and Gavin! The whole gang! "How do I look"? I asked, twirling around to give her the full effect: "Perfect". She commented, I smiled in thanks and went to sit beside her on my bed: "So tell me, what are you like at a club"? "Will you be out on the dance floor or are you one of the boring ones who just sits there and watches everyone"? She laughed: "Oh no, I'll be dancing, can't leave Gavin out there alone can I"? Aaaaand there it was, the reason I hated her in the first place, the reason I planned to get her out of the way, she had the one thing, the only thing I've ever wanted. Shame really, I was starting to enjoy myself with her: "So, will you be dancing with everyone or just Gavin"? "Aww don't worry, I'll save a dance for yoooooouuuuu"! She draped an arm over me and just like that, the urge to chop it off was back! "I wonder if Nelson's a good dancer". I hinted, in what I hoped was a subtle way, she cackled, rocking us side to side: "Nelson Nelson Nelson, he's all you talk about these days"! "Does someone have a little crush"?! She teased, pinching my noes the way old ladies do to kids they find adorable: "Shut up"! I laughed, swotting her hand away, Eradikate's phone made what I assumed was an alarm sound and she grabbed it from my nightstand to inspect: "Ahhh, it's time"! "Ready to go"?! I smiled and stood up: "Yep ready"! I picked up my purse, put my phone and keys inside and made sure everything else was in there too, before zipping it up and following Eradikate out of my room. We stopped just short of the front door before she turned to me: "Hey, thanks for tonight, I had a lot of fun bonding". She hugged me once more and a hint of my guilt was back, maybe I don't need the ticking time bomb in my purse, maybe if I just get her drunk enough the rest would take care of itself, all I'd have to do is encourage her to keep going: "Me too". I answered.

We'd been at the club for a couple hours and things were starting to get interesting, Eradikate had had a few shots then decided she wanted to slow down. I helpfully reminded her that this was her boyfriend's night and that she should celebrate! I kept insisting that I'd pay for her rounds and the gullible fool completely took the bait! It seamed like I didn't need to put anything in her drink after all, a few more helpful suggestions and she'd be out like a light any minute now. Gavin and The Nuisance had a few beers, I was trying to get Gavin to let loose a little more so he'd be a bit more pliable later, he wasn't as easily influenced as Eradikate. But the night was still young.

I watched annoyed as Gavin danced with Eradikate, she'd been hogging him all night and I was fuming! More than ready to send her straight to dreamland! I jumped when I felt someone tap me on the shoulder, it was The Nuisance: "You ok"?! He asked, trying to be heard over the music: "Yeah fine, you"?! He nodded: "I'm good, so how do you like the night life"?! "Is it what you expected"?! I nodded, honestly, it wasn't that special, just you're average club, it sort of reminded me of all those parties I tried to fit in at at uni, acting like I hadn't been to that club before was insanely easy: "Yeah, it's cool, I can see why you guys like coming here"! I smiled: "so er, did you wanna get back out on the dance floor for a bit"?! Ugh he must've seen me staring at the insufferable lovebirds over there, the last thing I need is him getting all suspicious again, besides, maybe Gavin'll see, maybe I can make him at least a little jealous: "Sure, why not"?! I replied with a grin, hopping off the table and joining The Nuisance on the dance floor: "They look cozy don't they"?! The Nuisance observed, forcing me to look back over at Eradikate's hands all over Gavin like she worked for some sort of escort service, I turned to face The Nuisance again with an innocent smile: "Haven't really noticed to be honest"! He laughed, grabbing my hand and twirling me around, that was fun, I liked being twirled around, made me feel like a princess, though I wished it was Gavin doing the twirling: "Yeah right, I saw you staring at them a moment ago"! Ohhh crap! I laughed it off: "I was just wondering why they looked like they were having so much more fun than us that's all"! He looked at me intently, like he was trying to work something out, almost like how he looked at me when we first met: "You know you really do look familiar, you sure we've never crossed paths before"?! Oh for goodness sake! I chuckled again: "Pretty sure I'd have remembered you by now Nels, or maybe you're just that forgettable"! "Oh ha ha, you're hilarious"! The Nuisance answered sarcastically before looking back over to where Gavin and Eradikate were dancing, then refocusing on me: "You like him don't you"?! Maybe I'm not as subtle as I think I am I worried: "Course, he's one of my best friends"! "But you want more don't you"?! "Nah, he's not my type"! I lied, dancing closer to him to make a point, he gave me a mischievous smirk, hands finding their way onto my hips: "Really"? "What is your type then"? I sucked in a breath, stretched up, wrapped my arms around his neck, and kissed him, it was poor, and sloppy. I could taste the alcohol on his breath, I kept imagining it was Gavin, but I was sure he would be a far superior kisser. It felt so unnatural kissing Gavin's best friend, but I needed to throw him off my trail. The Nuisance's hands were on my back, running through my hair and I fought hard not to cringe, he tasted of beer and the cheeseburger he told us he'd had on the way over. Finally, gladly I pulled away: "That do ya"? He smirked: "I think I might need a little more convincing". Ew, creep! "Back of the line tiger, I'm going to get some more drinks".

I looked on Google and found 10 Drinks That'll Get You Drunk Fast, on top of all the other drinks everyone had, that was sure to do the trick! The club only sold six of them but that was plenty, I bought two of each for Gavin, The Nuisance and Eradikate, while I stuck with water that I pretended was white wine, acting like I was getting more and more tipsy was becoming easier and easier as the night went on. I decided to make a game out of it, seeing who could chug their drinks the fastest, Eradikate was immensely into it surprisingly. She'd wanted to slow down again earlier, but I couldn't have that, so I put just a touch of vodka in her coke, perked her right up! Gavin was very drunk once I'd bought him his second glass of Pincer Shanghai strength. I bought him another small can of beer too just in case, he sipped on it, not being able to trust himself not to vomit, he was way too cute! The Nuisance was slowly losing it as well, but he wasn't my main priority: "Hey, yawanna dance"? Gavin asked, holding out his hand as he wobbled slightly on his feet, this was it! The start of finding out exactly what I meant to him: "I'd love to". I answered, taking his hand with a smile. Out on the dance floor, Gavin turned to me with a wonky smile: "A-am I drunk"?! "It feelsh like I shouodnt be drunk, I only had afew drinksh"! I giggled: "Well I might've convinced you to let your hair down a bit, this is your night Gavin, you deserve to have some fun". He laughed again: "your shiuuuchhh a bad influence Jayne"! He slurred, playfully pushing me: "Whatar we gona do if I acchly get the job if thish ish the fussh you peeple make over one inta-vew"? He asked clumsily, holding his index finger up: "Then we'll just have to have an even wilder party". I told him: "Annnd if I dont get it"? "Then we'll drink to the fact that there's better things to come for you". I answered, a serious expression on my face, he attempted to match it with his own, but he was too far gone bless him, he looked so goofy but handsome, sexy and strong none the less: "You reeelly belef in me dont you"? "Of course I do Gavin, I've always believed in you". I confessed, beginning to show him how much he meant to me at long last. He pulled me close and wrapped his arms around me, tight, it was spectacular! More spectacular than the hug at his house when I gave him the pie I'd bought: "Your purrf-ect yanow that"? I laughed, inhaling his warm, comforting scent: "And you're drunk, you are aware I'm not Kate right"? Then, swiftly, he took my face in both his hands and stared straight into my eyes: "I, no, eggs-actly, who, you, ar". All the music faded, time stood still yet again, everything melted away until it was just him and me in the middle of an empty room. It felt exactly like in the park, eyes locked, breath quickening, I wondered if he was getting lost in my eyes again: "Mmm, your iyz ar, sho prity". If i let him kiss me, that'd be it! Eradikate would see and the rest would be history! But then, if that did happen Gavin might get mad at me, or get embarrassed and avoid me, I couldn't let that happen, so, reluctantly, I took his hands in mine instead: "I wanna tell you something, can we get out of here"? He gave me another smile: "ohhkay, guyshhh"! He yelled, catching the attention of The Nuisance and Eradikate: "Ish evryone dun"? "I think I'm redy to cool if a nite, or hav an after, after partee, or wott-eva". "Yeh, that mite be a good idea, Kate'sh jusht bin shicc". As if by magic, Eradikate came racing up to Gavin, he quickly let go of my hands before she could see. She snaked her arms around his waist, he hugged back because of course he did: "Mmm, Gavin I dont feel sho good": "Maybe I sshood take her home". The Nuisance suggested tipsily: "No"! "You c-ant, my pairents wwood freak"! "You're a grown woman now Kate, I'm sure they wouldn't even care". I tried to reassure, eager to get Gavin alone as soon as possible: "Noooo, its too embracing"! Kate lamented, burying her face in Gavin's chest: "Ok thenletsh jussht go back to ours". The Nuisance suggested again: "Or Jayne'sh"! youv nev-a bin to Jayne'sh bef-or have yaNelsh"? "No I havnt, that cool Jayne"? "Fine by me". As long as Eradikate goes off to dreamland the second her head hits that sofa.
We all staggered back to mine, (well, they staggered, I just pretended). Good thing the club was only a short walk away or they might not have made it unscathed. Eradikate said her head hurt, actually she said her head, ears, feet and everything hurt, I laughed and offered her some "painkillers". In reality they were the sleeping pills I'd hidden in my purse, figured it'd knock her out quicker and hopefully longer. Obviously I didn't let her take them out of the pack, I just gave her two naked pills and she never questioned anything, neither did anyone else! Wow, they were either very drunk, very naïve or very trusting, or all three. I know I was thinking twice about using them, but she would've been dead to the world soon enough anyway, I was simply speeding up the process! I needed that night to work…. And it did! The second Eradikate's head hit my sofa cushions, she was fast asleep! The Nuisance took a bit longer unfortunately, he kept insisting we watch friends with him, i in turn kept having to nudge Gavin to stop him drifting off, reminding him I had something to tell him, but finally! After the second friends repeat, The Nuisance was sleeping! It actually worked! I couldn't believe it! Gavin and I were alone! "Mmm, ish thish the part wer you take me to your evil layer"? He teased drowsily, I laughed and held out my hand for him to take.
Once we were in my room, I closed the door behind us and he jumped onto my bed, laying back against the covers, note to self, never wash those sheets again! "Ahh, yesss finally, shlee-p"! I hurried over to him and sat on the edge of the bed facing him: "No, you can't sleep, I wanted to talk remember"? He groaned in exasperation: "torkings for sober peeple"! I laughed: "Please, I really want you to hear this". He gave an exaggerated sigh: "Ok, Ok, butt, it, beta, be, good". He mock warned, gently slapping my lap, I took his hand in mine again, intertwining our fingers, they fit so perfectly between mine: "It is, I promise, it's the best thing I could ever tell you". I took a deep breath, bracing myself: "You enjoyed yourself tonight didn't you"? I asked, deciding to ease into things, he groaned again: Jayyyyyneeee"!!!! "I thought you sed this woz important"! I giggled nervously: "I'm getting there ok"?! "Be patient". He sighed: "Yes Jayne, I enjoid miself very much, did you"? I nodded: "I always enjoy myself with you Gavin". He smiled: "Thank you again for the dress by the way". I said, looking down at it: "It really is beautiful". "Aw I'm glad you like it". "I do, so much". I affirmed squeezing his hand, he squeezed mine back: "Did you notice the earrings"? I asked, flicking one of them to grab his attention: "Yeh there the ones Kate got you rite"? "Do you likeem now or something"? I shrugged, this was it: "They're alright, bit like Kate really, she's alright, but I don't like her that much". Gavin groaned a third time, pounding his fists into the duvet with his free hand: "Ohhh, butt I thought we were all getting alooooooonnngggg"! "We are getting along Gavin, but I can't be friends with her, and it's wrong of you to expect me to be, she has the one and only thing I've ever wanted". He looked at me confused, pretty sure the alcohol was frying his brain:
"wot"? I squeezed his hand again: "You silly". He still looked confused: "havnt we already torkt about thish"? I shook my head: "Not completely". I took off Eradikate's earrings and discarded them beside me on the bed, forgotten, just like Eradikate herself: "I don't wanna be friends with Kate anymore Gavin". He nodded slowly: "Kay, sory for trying". "It's Ok, it's not your fault it's just"…. I looked down, fixing my gaze on the toile patterns on my duvet, before chancing a glance back up at Gavin: "I saw you first you know"? "Hm"? "You really don't remember me do you"? "Your face is femilier butt you shaid you jusht have one of thoshe". I sighed: "I lied". I saw shock register on his face mixed with a hint of hurt, I was so relieved to finally be telling him the truth: "I'm sorry, I just didn't want you to think I was some mad stalker who just showed up out of the blue"! "I, cood never, think that". I smiled: "Nelson was right, we have crossed paths before, I don't really remember Nelson but, I could never forget you, I went to UOL with you guys, I was in your physics class". I let go of his hand and moved closer to him, our faces mere centimetres apart: "Recognise me yet"? I whispered, waiting as he searched my face: …."The classh, with that profeshor, with the, giant, yelo glassesh"? He guessed, I laughed, overjoyed, he remembered! "Yeah"! "You, sssat the, back, you ussed to look sso lonely". "I was". I mumbled, head bowed low. Gavin's hand shook slightly as he lifted my chin to meet his eyes: "J-ane… H-arriss"? "Yeah"! Yeah, it's me"! "Oh baby I'm so glad you remember"! I took both his hands and kissed the back of them: "Mm, your lasst namess different on socol media, and your ID". "I didn't want you to put two and two together on your own, I've had a lot of time to prepare, I used to love coming to class and seeing your face every Tuesday, you were always so smart and funny and charming and charismatic, you won all those lecture hall debates". "Not al, Jesica, wotser fase woz alwayz a-no-it-al-sho-offff". I rolled my eyes: "I remember".
"You always seemed so sweet and kind, you might not remember this but you almost came to talk to me once": "Mmm"? "Yeah, there was this party, I hadn't really made any friends and I thought maybe that would be my chance, I ended up spending the whole evening by myself crying my eyes out, I saw you across the room and you looked over at me, you looked so concerned, like you were sad for me or something, you started to walk over so I quickly wiped my eyes". I let out a self deprecating chuckle: "But then someone came over to you, started pulling you away, you kept pointing in my direction and shaking your head like you were trying to tell them you needed to talk to someone first, but they kept trying to drag you away anyway, I think they wanted you to play some drinking game or something, anyhow then you gave me an apologetic look and went off with them". "Nels"… Now it was my turn to be confused: "Huh"? He sighed and tried to sit upright, attempting to look serious again for a moment, he ended up slouching a little against the headboard but that wasn't important, I wanted to see where this was going: "I rember that parr-ty, I rember sseeing you ssat alone at the backk off the room, I'd bin watching you forfew seconds bef-or deciding to ccome see what wass up, butt then Nelson kept nssissting I played beer pong with him". Ugh! Nelson! Stupid, dumb, unable to read the room Nelson! He really is a Nuisance isn't he?! I can't believe I had to kiss that ugly, sloppy, salivary, crusty lipped, cheeseburger stinking wrecking ball! I couldn't believe I didn't remember him! You'd think I'd remember anyone who got in the way of Gavin and I, especially if they did it twice! Maybe I just suppressed the memory? Besides, Gavin had so many friends, way too many to keep track of. Ugh he's so lucky I didn't remember him or I may have punched a hole right through his gigantic forehead the second Gavin introduced us! "I'm reely sory about that Jjane, butt you ccoodv ccome ffound mme yyou nnoo"? "Atanny time". He informed, gesturing with his hands: "I was too shy, too intimidated, I was scared you wouldn't like me". He lifted his hand and placed it delicately on my cheek, breath caught in my throat: "Off ccorss I Wood".
I lent into his touch, closing my eyes and relishing the feeling: "I wish I'd known that, then maybe things would be different, to think, we could've been married with two kids by now". He laughed and I opened my eyes to look at him: "Wood yyouu hav liked thatt"? I nodded: "So much, you have no idea how much you mean to me Gavin, I thought about quitting uni so many times, it was so hard, but then I thought about you and how much of a success you were"- he cut me off with an eye roll and I knew what was coming, I could just tell: "Dint turn outt verry welll though did itt"? "You may not be doing exactly what you'd hoped, but you're still making something of yourself, you'll still be helping shape lives". "If I ggett itt": "You will"! I reiterated: "I'm so proud of you Gavin, I always have been". He smiled shyly and ducked his head, he was so adorable: "And whenever I felt like giving up, I thought of you, all you've achieved, how hard you worked, I thought about not seeing your face every week or around campus, it kept me going". I lifted his chin so he was looking at me, just like he'd done with me moments before: "You kept me going, you're everything to me baby". I whispered: he laughed again, pulling away: "I canntt bbe eeeevvvryyything ": "You are, I haven't got much else have I"? "But I don't need much else, not when I've got you": "Wot about ffrend-ss"? "I don't have any, I lied before about the one downtown and I'm sorry I did that, seriously Gavin, you're all I've got". "Ffamlly"? He asked clumsily: "I've told you how useless they are, my dad's a dead beat who ran out on us when I was 2 years old, my mum only pretends to care about me"…
"Wwott aboutt yyourr broo"? I shook my head: "He always takes mum's side, he's such a Toady". We both chuckled: "issss thatt wot yyouu cool hhim"? I nodded: "He and Big Fat Egg Donor tried to keep me from finding you". He laughed again:"Who"? "I only call her mum on the odd occasion, when I'm feeling generous". He laughed again: "Gott a name ffor yyourr dad"? I nodded: "Mr Smash And Dash". An awkward silence passed between us, Gavin's attempt at a serious face nearly worked that time:"Sory". "Don't be, like I said, I've got you, I don't need anything or anyone else". I told him with a warm smile: "Hhoww eggs-actly didd you ffinnd mme by the way"? "I came across a couple of your friend's facebook profile's, I sent them a message, I told them we were old friends and that you'd invited me over to catch up but I'd lost your address". There was a pause, Gavin stared at me, with a look i couldn't read: "Shood I be freaked outt by thatt"? "What"? "No"! "Of course not"! "I only did it coz I missed you, I wanted to be near you again". I reassured: "You coodv jusstt messseged me on Facebook and ttolld me hoo you were you nooo"? "We coodv bilt up a frendship llikke thatt, you dint hav to do aaaalll thisss". "I wanted to get my confidence up first, that's what those two years were about, gaining confidence, planning the perfect way to be part of your life, I had everything planned out until"… I swallowed: "Until Kate, I cried so much when you introduced her to me". I recalled, looking away from him again: "Coz off mme"? I quickly turned back to face him, touching his cheek: "Never, never because of you, I cried for you, I wanted you so badly and she stole you from me".
"Mmm, sory Jane, I shoodv told you bouter". "It's ok, I forgive you, besides, it doesn't matter now does it"? "Coz now, it's just you, and me, the way it should always be". I smiled contently: "Hey, can I show you something"? He nodded and I bent down and pulled out my bottom drawer, placing it on the bed in front of Gavin: "I call this The Gavin Drawer". I began pulling out the contents one by one: "Remember this"? "It's the cup from the free coffee you made me that time, and this is the receipt from the one I bought you the first time we really talked". I pulled out his old, folded shirt next, he recognised it instantly: "iss thatt mine"? I nodded: "Figured you wouldn't miss it, it was just laying at the back of your wardrobe": "Iss tthiss mine too"? He asked, locating the cologne I took from his bathroom, I nodded again before showing him the piece of toilet roll I got from his bathroom: "Loo role"? "I got it with the cologne, recognise anything else"? He looked around confused for a moment, before he looked behind him and realised he'd been laying on his pillowcase. "Aaandd you just took these ffrommy house"? He asked, I had this sickening feeling he was starting to sober up a bit: "I was just so happy to be there, look what else I have". I dug out the wrapping from the chips we had at the park: "This is from when we hung out at the park remember"? "And thiss"? He asked, pulling out a tiny, yellow pencil, I gently took it from him: "This was your pencil at uni, we were all supposed to be taking notes one class, I'd overslepped and forgot my pencil case in the mad rush to get to the lecture room". I tittered at the memory: "You saw me frantically searching my bag and asked if I needed to borrow anything, I was so shocked that you were speaking to me i couldn't even speak, you rooted through your bag and handed me that pencil and I barely managed to say thanks before you sat back down". "Wow, You reelly keptt thatt aaaalll thiss time"? "Of course I did, it was the very first time you spoke to me, I'll always treasure it". I put the pencil back in the drawer and raced over to my dresser where my purse was sat and dug out my phone. I went onto my photo library then went back over to Gavin to show the photos to him. He scrolled through them, wearing another expression I couldn't quite work out: "Best time of my week that, you walking past my window every Monday". "Thereall, like from afar, somme of them look, like mmy house". His head suddenly shot up to look at me: "shood you be showing me alll thiss"? "Isnt thiss alll a bit sstrange"? I took the phone out of his hands and casually tossed it aside: "It's not strange, this is what people do when they're in love, one day I hope you might have a Jane drawer". He laughed: "A Jane drawer hhuh"? "Wot wood I putt in itt"? "Alock of your hair"? "If that's what you wanted, I'd give you anything you wanted Gavin". I whispered before getting up and walking across the room to my bedroom door: "Hhey, whereare you going"?! "Try not to fall asleep ok"? "I'll be right back".
I crept downstairs, careful not to make a sound. I went into the kitchen, searched quietly through the drawers for my scissors and crept back up to my room, closing the door behind me once more: "hHey, where'dya go"? "To get these". I held up the scissors for Gavin to see and took a strand of hair between my fingers before cutting off it's length, I hopped back onto the bed in front of Gavin and ran the lock of hair through his fingers so he could feel every inch of it: "Anything". I whispered again, Gavin took the strand from me, letting it dangle in his hand: "Tthankkss Jane, I'll ttreassure itt, itt'ss purrffectt". He laughed, I couldn't tell if he was making fun of me or if he was still feeling the effects of the alcohol: "Please don't laugh baby, I've longed for this moment for ages". "Hhow long"? "Since we were 18, since that first day of class". "Wow, loooong time". He sighed: "I'm sory Jane, I dint mean to laugh, I guesss I'm sstill kinda tipssy, am I even gna rember any of thiss tomoro"? "Sshood I be writing itt down"? I shook my head: "it's Ok, I'll remember". He smiled: "Woz theerenyfing, else you longed for"? I nodded, leaning in close, my lips a hairs breath away from his: "kiss me". I murmured: "Wot boutt Katte"? STUFF ERADIKATE JUST KISS ME YOU UNBELIEVABLY PERFECT IDIOT!!! "Girlfriends are like shoes Gavin, easily replaced, I'm it for you I'm afraid". I smiled: "No one'll ever love you like I love you, I'm your soulmate". He smiled back up at me and ran a hand through the hair still on my head: "Mmm, I've allwayz wonted tto meett one of you". My smile widened: "Hi, now kiss me". And he did! His lips were soft, warm, gentle, almost tentative, like he wasn't sure about it, then without warning, he kissed me deeper, harder, my whole body tingled with electricity! It was fantastic! It felt like I was being rewarded for having to endure kissing The Nuisance earlier, like The Nuisance was the vegetables your mother made you eat at dinner time because they were quote: "Good for you", and Gavin was the sweet, sweet dessert you savoured every single bite of! As devastated and heartbroken as I was when I found out about Eradikate, that's how blissful and overwhelmingly euphoric I felt having him kiss me like that: "Mmmm". "I wonted tto do tthatt atthe parkk". He breathed out: "I've wanted you to do that for six years, I think I win this round". He chuckled: "Tthen I bettta make itt wortth your wile huh"? I nodded: "Yes please". His kisses were firm again, firm and sure. I could only taste alcohol on his breath, but it was still him, his lips, his tongue, on mine! It was like all of my birthdays AND christmases had come at once! I wondered how he usually tasted when alcohol wasn't involved, I was positive I'd find out soon enough, and hey, at least I couldn't taste cheeseburger this time! Gavin pulled me closer so our bodies were flush against each other, I could feel every inch of him! My hands explored his back then ran through his hair for the very first time. It was as soft as I expected, like running my fingers through a fluffy cloud.
Gavin's hands were in my hair, then they roamed down my back and began to fiddle with my bra clasp! This was actually happening! I reached behind me and helped him undo it before shrugging it off, I pulled it from inside my dress, chucked it aside, and resumed kissing Gavin. His hands continued their journey down my back until they were at my butt, then suddenly I felt a squeeze! I gasped: "Gavin"! "Don't tease me"! He laughed: "isnt tteezing partt of tthe fun"? "Not when you've been waiting six years"! He laughed again: "Ssory". He kissed me a third time, I tilted my head back as his lips found their way to my neck, I sank my fingers deep into the roots of his hair, closed my eyes and relished every second! Then, things went still: "Gavin"! I groaned in frustration: "baby please don't stop, I've waited so long for this, please"! When he didn't respond I huffed angrily and opened my eyes to find him slouched against my neck, eyes closed. Yup, he'd passed out! "Oh come on, not now"! I whined. I tried to shake him awake but it was no use, he was out cold! I shrugged him off, letting him fall back against the covers again. He does look really peaceful I decided. I reached up and ran my fingers through his soft hair once again, I slowly stroked his cheeks with the back of my hand, I gave him another kiss on the lips, then I kissed his forehead and cheeks: "I love you Gavin". I whispered. I nibbled gently at his earlobe, then moved closer to kiss his neck, I kissed, i nibbled, i sucked, loving the feeling of having him under my hands, completely at my mercy, who cares if it made a mark, I could always say it was Eradikate. I lifted up his shirt and slowly kissed up from his stomach to his chest, I took both his hands in mine and kissed the back of them just like before, I got up, took off his shoes and socks, took a moment to breathe in their scent, pongy admittedly, but even the stench of Gavin's socks and trainers smelled better than the best, most expensive aromas around. I placed them neatly on the floor and kissed his feet before standing up again and going toward the middle of the bed. There was still so much more I wanted. I looked between his legs, there was so much I could do, but I had a feeling I'd regret it in the morning, so I settled for a gentle kiss instead. I'd have all of him in no time at all, there was no doubt in my mind after tonight. Satisfied, I went over to where the drawer still sat open on the bed, put everything back inside including the lock of hair and my Gavin touched bra, I carefully put the drawer back in it's place, put the earrings, scissors and phone back on the side table and laid on the bed beside Gavin. I rest my head on his chest and positioned his arms so they were wrapped around me, I was lulled to sleep by the sound of his steady heartbeat. Bu bum… bu bum… bu bum… bu bum….
I woke up the next morning to the feeling of being shoved forward and the sound of throwing up: "Uuuuuuggghhhhh, Gosh I feel like death"! Gavin complained, flopping back against the pillows again: "I feel like death, and I think I just ruined your floor, Ugh this is the worst morning ever, what even happened last night"? "Eh, not a lot". I downplayed: "We had fun at the club, came back here, Kate and Nelson passed out pretty much straight away but you insisted on coming in here and talking my ear off practically all night". I chuckled, Gavin groaned covering his face with his hands: "I'm so embarrassed, I'm so sorry Jane, I'm the worst friend ever". "No you're not, you're the best". I told him, giving him a reassuring smile, he smiled back: "You're sweet, hey, nothing happened…. You know, between us did it"? I laughed: "No way, of course not, we were both way too drunk to do anything anyway". He breathed a sigh of relief: "That's good, no offence but I really don't wanna mess things up with Kate, I like her a lot you know"? I smiled: "Don't worry, your relationship is still in tact". Gavin smiled back: "Good, sorry Jane, you know I think you're great, it's just-" "Gavin, don't stress, I get it". Ok, so he didn't remember, I knew that was a possibility, it was probably a good thing anyway, I couldn't see The Gavin Drawer and all the photos going over too well if he was sober, it was hard enough convincing him it wasn't that weird last night. The important thing was that I knew he definitely wanted me as much as I wanted him, and that Eradikate was the only thing separating us. I probably didn't need to kill her, maybe I was being too hasty, at least if I just got her and The Nuisance together I could concentrate on having a real friend for once! It might be fun, double dates, girls nights, sharing secrets, last night was proof that I could get used to her. Besides if I killed her, Gavin would most likely spend months moping around over her, at least this way he'd just end up hating her for a while, then he'd get over it because he'd realise he found someone better, then we could be a genuine friendship group! I've always wanted one of those! But unfortunately that would mean having to overlook the fact that The Nuisance stopped Gavin coming over to talk to me which was virtually impossible! How on earth was I supposed to get over the fact that Gavin and I could've been together a lot sooner if it wasn't for him?! I guess I'd have to implement Dr Elson's (or who I liked to call Naïve Nelly's) advice about: "Choosing your battles".
Ugh I really hated that kinda thing, if I had it my way, I'd wage every war, win every battle and return with the spoils AND the heads of all my victims! And of course, there was the issue of having to tell Gavin who I really was again. At least this time he'd remember, and maybe this time I'll leave The Gavin Drawer and the pictures out of it, just until I knew he could handle it: "Thanks, we should probably escape from here and hope the others are still sleeping or they're definitely gonna think something happened". Gavin brought up. I hadn't even considered that, I'd been so focused on that night, I hadn't factored in the aftermath: "I'll go first, I'll call you down if the coast's clear". I told him before sneaking downstairs to the living room, thankfully both Kate and The Nuisance were still fast asleep.
"Gavin, coast's clear". I called quietly, he slowly came downstairs and entered the living room: "Thanks". He went over to where Kate was sleeping, moved some hair away from her face and kissed her forehead, ugh I hated it with such passion! I was SO looking forward to getting her away from him: "Got any painkillers"? Gavin asked: "Mmmhmm come". He followed me into the kitchen where I looked through the drawers ffor some ibriprophen: "I'd offer you some coffee, but I don't wanna wake them up before they're ready". I whispered, pointing toward Kate and Nelson's sleeping area, he looked toward them too: "I think they need all the sleep they can get". I added, handing him some actual painkillers: "Going at it pretty hard were they"? He chuckled, taking the tablets from me and pouring himself a glass of water to take them with: "Especially Kate". He smirked, gulping down the water and tablets: "It's fine, might be a bit scandalous anyway, you making me coffee instead of the other way around". "Well, we can't have that now can we"? I answered. I led him back into the living room and he sat beside Kate on the sofa, gently moving her legs and placing them on his lap. Gag! I fought hard not to visibly cringe: "Hey, thanks for putting up with us all night by the way, you could've just called us a cab and we'd have been out of your hair". Ah, but that wasn't part of the plan now was it Gav? Maybe it would've been better to send Nelson and Kate home but definitely not you: "No way Gav, what kind of friend would that make me"? "Besides, Kate kept going on about how er, what did she call it"? "Embracing" I recalled with a laugh at her slip up, gesturing quotation marks for him: "It would be for her parents to catch her like that". Gavin laughed: "Yeah I guess they wouldn't wanna embrace her after that". We both chuckled at that, and that's when Kate began to stir, ugh! You ruin everything bubble brain! She was making it EXTREMELY difficult to continue wanting to be friends with her instead of just stabbing her straight through her chest and finishing her off once and for all! "Mmm, Gavin"…? She asked, her feet squirming around in his lap: "Hey babe". I had to look away as he kissed her on the lips, I thought about how he'd kissed me the night before, so passionate, so wanting, I've never felt as desired as I did that night. Then I thought about how he didn't remember and my heart throbbed: "So, feeling as crappy as me"? I heard him ask her: "Mmmhmm, where even are we"? "We're at Jane's, Do you want her to get you some painkillers"? Ugh what am I?! Her slave"?! "Jane, can you get Kate some painkillers please"? "Sure". I answered, trying my best not to grit my teeth. You have no idea how tempting it was to give her more sleeping pills and send her straight back to the land of nod, or better yet give her so many she'd choke or overdose! But I didn't need Gavin asking questions, plus I decided I wouldn't hurt her, so I'd have to yet again practise "impulse control". Sighing I went back into the living room and handed Kate the tablets and water: "Here". "Thanks Jane". She replied, taking them and sitting upright: "How much do you remember"? Gavin asked her: "Mmm, not a lot, you"? "Same". Kate laughed: "That's the mark of a great party that is". Gavin flopped back against the sofa with a moan: "Can we please do something more low key if I get this job"? "I never wanna drink again". I laughed: "Famous last words"."No I mean it, let's just, hang out here with a few pizza's or something and maybe one beer". "Ughh I hate beer". Kate protested: "Yeah me too, when have you ever known me to drink beer"? I'll give Kate that, she had good taste, I bet she'd NEVER put pineapple on pizza! Gavin rolled his eyes: "k fine Pizza, one can of beer and one can of whatever you lot want". "Much better". Kate praised before pecking him on the lips. Her gaze then moved to the faint mark on Gavin's neck. Oh gosh…. "Hey, what's that"? She asked stroking the mark with her index finger, causing Gavin to look there too, he looked just as confused as she did: "Did I do that"? "Yeah you did"! I answered chuckling: "PDA is so not cool FYI". Kate giggled: "Oops, sorry guys". I rolled my eyes playfully at her: "So, let me get this straight, I have to forgive you for climbing all over Gavin and sucking his neck off while I tried to eat some crisps AND I have to forgive you for your freeloading ways"?! "Aww you've had it so rough haven't you"? She opened her arms wide and came up to hug me, rocking us side to side: "I'm sorry for freeloading and for the PDA, how about I make it up to you"? She asked with a smile as she let me go, I laughed: "Kate, I was kidding you don't have to do that". "I know you were, I want to, you let me crash so now I want you to let me make you breakfast"! "Seriously Kate, you don't have to"- "Pleeeeaaase, come on, I make the best, most crispiest bacon around, don't I Gav"? She turned to him for back up, but he looked like he was miles away, I prayed so hard that he wasn't thinking about the lie I'd just told: "Hm"? "Oh, yeah, course".
"You Ok"? "Yeah fine". Kate turned back to me with an expectant smile: "Well"? "Fine, sure, go for it". She squealed: "I don't actually have any bacon, you're gonna have to go to Sainsbury's down the road". "Ok, be back in 5". She told us before grabbing her purse and shoes and heading for the door. As soon as she left Gavin stood up and walked across the room to me: "You lied to me before didn't you"? "About nothing happening between us". "What"? "No, of course I didn't". "So Kate goes all PDA but somehow I end up in your bed"? "You weren't in it you were on it there's a difference". "Not much". "Well I don't know Gavin, I'm not the one who allowed himself to get so blind drunk he can't remember anything". We were both silent for a moment, my harsh words hanging in the air: "Wow, thanks for that". I sighed: "Sorry, you know I didn't mean it like that". "It was you lot who were encouraging me, I didn't even wanna go out and get so drunk I don't remember anything, you think I like waking up with a love bite I'm not a hundred per cent sure I know where from"?! "I already told you where it was from"! He stared at me for a long moment, not the way he had the night before, not the way he had at the park, something was different this time: "You know, I can't tell when you're lying and when you're not and that really scares me". I felt crushed, this is so not how I wanted to make him feel: "I've never lied to you". I defended: "You lied about being ok with just being mates, I still can't tell whether or not you're being genuine with Kate"… That's ironic, right when I'm starting to be genuine with Kate: "Of course I am"! "Why can't I work you out"? He asked, shaking his head. Just then, Nelson began to stir: "Mmm, ugh I feel like I've been run over by a tow truck". Gavin laughed: "Join the club mate". Nelson sat up: "Got any painkillers Jane"? "Yeah, hang on".
A few minutes later, Gavin had gone to take a shower, I hoped he might leave some hair in the drain or something for my collection. Though, the thought of him potentially being scared of me made me feel kinda sick, maybe I'm going about this the wrong way, but how else am I supposed to get him to love me? I asked myself, I have to have him! I just have to! I couldn't stand it if I'd wasted six years of my life hoping for something that wasn't gonna happen. Why did it all suddenly feel so… wrong? It's not like I was forcing anything, last night was proof of how he felt! In other news, Kate had come back and was making breakfast in the kitchen. I was curious as to how good she really was at cooking, I looked forward to finding out. Nelson sat beside me on the sofa, watching TV: "Hey, can we talk"? He suddenly asked, turning to me: "Sure". "How much do you remember about last night"? Oh great, am I gonna have to explain the kiss to him now?! I still couldn't believe I had to kiss that interfering, stupid oik! I shrugged: "Not a lot, why"? "So you don't remember the kiss then"? "Oh, yeah that, look Nels, it was just a bit of fun, no big deal ok"? He sighed in relief: "Ok good, that's what I wanted to say". I decided to seize an opportunity to plant some Kate shaped seeds: "Did you get to dance with Kate last night too or"…? "I don't really remember if I'm honest". He answered, shaking his head: "Ok, would you have liked to"? He shrugged: "Why not"? She's a mate right"? Yeah… right… mates. Before I knew it Kate came bounding in with breakfast, it admittedly looked and smelled delicious: scrambled eggs, (my personal favourite) bacon, beans, beaf burgers, sausages and toast. "Ta da"! She said, presenting me the plate with a flourish: "Wow Kate, this looks great, thanks". "No problem, like I said, it's the least I could do, I can't wait to hear you gush about how fabulous my bacon is"! I smiled: "I'm sure I'll be begging you for more". "That's what she said"! Kate laughed, rolling her eyes: "Shut up Nels"! He smiled at her and I thought I saw a spark, though, it could've just been my wishful thinking.
Kate was right, as much as I hated to give her credit, her bacon was truly the best I've ever tasted! Even better than mine! Stupid cow! Mine always managed to come out burnt to some degree. While Nelson and Kate continued talking in the living room, making a running commentary on an episode of The Big Bang Theory Nelson and I convinced Kate to see if she liked, I carried my empty plate into the kitchen where Gavin was washing his own plate. He barely spoke to me during breakfast and I was very worried: "You didn't have to do that, I could've taken care of it". I said as I stood beside him, placing my plate on the counter: "No need". He answered, drying his cutlery and putting them in their places: "Are you mad"? He let out a breath and finally turned to face me: "I'm confused, I feel like you're not telling me something and I don't appreciate it". I swallowed, my guilt insurmountable, I couldn't tell him, not while he was still with Kate, that would only make him hate me, or get freaked out and never speak to me again, I started to feel like maybe that night had been a mistake, maybe I'd taken advantage. But I hadn't! He liked it! He wanted me! I knew exactly how he felt, I was confused too: "I'm not, I'd tell you if something happened". Lying through my teeth was beginning to become exhausting, I thought hard not to cry or blurt everything out at that second: "Then how did I wake up with you and not Kate if things were so handsy last night"? "And try explaining it without getting defensive this time, it's a dead giveaway". I sucked in a breath and began spinning yet another yarn: "You guys were both all over each other, Kate passed out first, same as Nelson, I said I'd leave you to it but you wanted to come with and talk". I held my breath as I waited to see if he'd believe me or not: "That simple"? I nodded: "That simple, like I said we were too drunk to do anything anyway". "On your life"? I put my hand over my heart: "Cross my heart, I wouldn't keep something like that from you, I didn't even remember until Kate spotted the love bite". "And was there a reason you didn't tell me we lived so close to each other"? I shrugged: "Like what"? "I don't know that's my point, something's really suss Jane and I don't know what it is". "You're being paranoid"! Great, so now I'm gaslighting him?! I wanted to crawl into the deepest, darkest hole I could find and never come out: "It's not like you haven't kept things from me is it"? He sighed: "I guess, ok, look me in the eye and tell me there's nothing I need to be concerned about". He lowered his face so we were eye to eye, so close his bright green hues were almost blinding. He was so close I could've kissed him again, just like that night, lips moving in perfect sync, strong arms wrapped around each other, I'd have done anything to go back to that moment: "I promise" I answered softly without blinking, we stared each other down for a long moment before he finally pulled away: "Ok". "So… we're good"? He nodded: "We're good". Was all he said before stepping back into the living room.
20 minutes later, I was sat on the sofa with Kate and Gavin while Nelson sat on one of the armchairs. Kate seemed to be enjoying the seemingly endless sea of Big Bang re runs they always had on E4 on Saturdays: "Why does Penny remind me so much of me"? She commented. Coz you're both blonde, plucky, popular and sometimes a bit ditsy. I thought, I didn't dare say that though, I was beyond on thin ice with Gavin: "Because you're both beautiful and bubbly and clever"…. Gavin complimented before pulling her chin toward him and placing a lingering kiss on her lips, I cringed, she giggled: "Gavin, you big softy"! "Er, excuse me I said no PDA"! I scolded playfully slapping Kate's side: "It was Gavin"! He laughed: "Sorry, couldn't help it". "Ugh, you guys are insufferable". Nelson added: "Hey maybe if you guys went out you wouldn't have such big of a gag reflex coz you'd be happy and in love like us"! Kate suggested, leaning back against Gavin's chest and squeezing his chin: "Woah, love"? "It's a bit soon for that isn't it"? "You know what I mean, Nelson Jane talks about you a lot have you noticed"? Nelson looked awkwardly between us all and I felt heat rise to my cheeks: "Er, I"- "Oh my gosh look she's blushing"! Kate exclaimed, pointing to my cheeks: "You like him don't you"? "He's not exactly my type, no offence Nels". "None taken". He replied, hands raised in defence and relief: "Aw, that's a shame, you really look like you're blushing". "Yeah because you're embarrassing me that's why"! I finally snapped, completely done with her by this point: "Geez, sorry, I didn't mean to, you guys just always seem so put out whenever Gavin and I show the tiniest bit of affection that's all". "It's not the tiniest bit though is it Kate"?! "You literally parade your relationship around like a trophy or something"! "Guys listen"- "why do you always sound so jealous"?! "Is it that you want a boyfriend of your own or is it that you want Gavin"? The room fell silent, Gavin and Kate's eyes burning a hole through my skull. For once in my life, I didn't have a way out, a carefully woven together sentence, I didn't even have the comforting feeling of Gavin being on my side: "Well"? "Don't feel threatened Kate, I don't want your sloppy seconds". I answered, settling back into the sofa, but for some reason, Kate's eyes were still glued to me: "I'm not as dumb as you seam to think I am Jane, I've seen the way you look at him, how much attention you pay, Gavin used to talk about you all the time, you think I've not picked up on things"?! Now Nelson was staring too, given how much he was grilling me at the club this was not good: "Obviously I liked him before I found out about you but"… I trailed off. Ugh! How am I letting Eradikate stump me like this?! What's happening?! "But what"?! "Feeling's just disappeared did they"?! I swallowed, fought hard against the tears wanting to spill down my face, sat up and looked directly at Eradikate: "Obviously I'm not gonna do anything, we're friends". "Then why all the comments"?! "Why are you always in that dress he bought you"?! Instinctively, I looked down at my dress, subtly wrapping an arm around the middle of it protectively as Eradikate continued ripping into me: "Why the insistence that we all got drunk last night"?! "Coz I may not be able to remember much but I certainly remember that"!
"Why did you seam less drunk than the rest of us"?! "Coz I remember that a"! "Kate, I wasn't that drunk either maybe you're reading too much into this". Nelson at last defended me: "No, it makes sense"! She protested facing him: "She would've only needed Gavin and I to get drunk, to get me out of the way and to"- She suddenly stopped and turned to Gavin, I felt like I was unraveling, like a piece of long thread just waiting to come undone: "Did she do that"?! She asked, gesturing to the love bite on Gavin's neck: "Did something happen between you"?! "No"! "Of course not"! "I wouldn't"! "And besides, we were both too drunk"! "You said you didn't remember anything"! "Jane explained it to me". Sharply, both their heads turned to me expectantly, despite my best efforts, the tears came and I felt hot and shaky, I began fiddling with my fingernails, I couldn't believe I was doing this in front of them but I couldn't help it, it was like I could see Gavin vanish right before my eyes: "I-I wouldn't do that to you Kate I swear"! Listen you were all over each other, a-and then you fell asleep a-and Gavin wanted to talk that's all I promise"! I defended, trying to get my racing tears under control: "Talk"? "In your room"? I nodded: "And you believe this"? She asked Gavin, turning back toward him: "I did just basically interrogate her about it earlier, I think she's telling the truth". I was so grateful and relieved I could've dove straight into his arms! Thank you baby, thank you so much, this is why I love you, and soon, soon we're gonna be together and everything will be perfect! "Did you know she liked you before we got together"? I saw Gavin swallow and nod slowly: "But you didn't warn me"? Her voice shook a little too as she asked: "I didn't wanna hurt you". "Did you like her back"? I held my breath and waited, he hesitated, she didn't wait for him to answer, instead she got up, grabbed her stuff and hurried for the door. Of course, Gavin went after her: "No, Kate wait, I'm sorry, I"… the door slammed and Nelson came to join me on the sofa: "You ok"? I shook my head, I was already carrying so much, at least I could release a little bit of the stress, he put an arm around me and I cried into his chest.
After a few minutes of continued embarrassment, I sat upright with a sigh: "Well, that was intense". He commented making me smile, my first genuine smile at him actually, it felt nice, weird but nice: "So, how long have you and Gavin had a thing for each other"? "I can't speak for Gavin but I liked him ever since I met him in the café a few months ago". He stared at me. Oh no, I really don't have the energy to be called out again: "So Gavin and I really don't know you from anywhere then"? I shook my head: "No". "I don't know Jane, you do seam to have a lot of secrets". I sighed exasperated: "You know what Nelson"? "I don't care what you believe I'm exhausted, you can go if you want". Reading the room for once in his nosy, boring, busy-bodying little life, The Nuisance left, tale between his legs.
I was miserable the rest of that day, I was at a total loss as to how things backfired so quickly, last night was phenomenal! So why did everything suddenly feel so wrong? Stupid Eradikate that's why! Ugh! How did I ever think I could be friends with that open legged cow?! I shouldn't have bothered, I should've stuck to my guns and killed her! But no I had to be patient and let her embarrass me in front of everyone! From now on I'm not listening to anymore councillor bull crap! It never got me anywhere before, I don't know why I expected it to now, from now on, I'm doing things my way! But first, I had to scope out where I stood with Gavin, then I'd know my next move. I cleaned up Gavin's sick from my floor, debating weather or not to keep a little of it in a small container I could spray to keep it from smelling. I did, I had to, I couldn't stop thinking about how it was Gavin's and how it would be something else I could put in the drawer, despite everything, despite the very faint feeling that something was off, I still felt so addicted to him, and the way he tried to stick up for me with Eradikate was astonishing! He could've said he didn't believe my story but he didn't! He was always looking out for me! I also put the hair he'd left in my drain in the drawer too, couldn't exactly leave it in the drain right?
I lay in bed that night, beside the side Gavin slept on the night before, I still wore his shirt, it helped ease the strange feeling in the pit of my stomach a little. I hadn't heard anything from him all day, nothing about where we stood, nothing about where things were with Eradikate, there wasn't even an update from The Nuisance about any of it, so I decided to bite the bullet and text him instead:
Message To: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
FEB 6th 10:30PM
Hey, sorry about this morning…. Is everything ok?
I tapped anxiously on my bedsheets as I waited for a reply:
Message from: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
FEB 6th 10:45PM
Yeah, I mean, I think so… I told Kate about our moment in the park then told her I only didn't say anything sooner coz nothing actually happened between us and I didn't wanna hurt her

Well… at least he's still talking to me, that's something.

Thanks for backing me up by the way
It's ok, you swore to me you were telling the truth so I'm choosing to believe you

I hated myself, pretty sure I was the worst human ever by that point, but it kept him here, that's what counted:

Thanks 🙂
I need you to do something for me though…
Sure anything 🙂
I need you to apologise to Kate

WHAT!!! NO WAY ON PLANET EARTH! Haven't I been humiliated by that insecure dense enough?!

Why?! I didn't do anything!
Jane, I told you not to keep having digs at her!

I rolled my eyes at the screen:

To be fair, Nelson was making fun of her too, and it wasn't even just her! We were teasing BOTH of you!!
You know it's not just that! Nelson doesn't do it NEARLY as much as you do! Besides I don't have history with Nelson do I???
I should've had a problem with that word "history" but I didn't, it meant we had something, that we shared something special and he knew it! He was acknowledging it! And it wouldn't be history anymore once I was done with Eradikate:
Message from: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
FEB 6th 10:48PM
Jane, if you can't apologise, if we can't all be real friends and get on properly then we can't be friends at all anymore.
In my defence, you DID promise not to rub it in my face….
I wasn't trying to rub it in! I was simply showing affection to my girlfriend! If this is gonna keep being a problem you need to tell me right now so we can cut our losses…

I was livid! How was my friendship with Gavin depending on that stupid pick me girl?! But I knew I'd have to suck it up if I wanted any chance with him, plus Eradikate would no longer be an issue soon enough, so I had to make up a fake apology, small price to pay right?

Ok, fine, I'll apologise

Ugh typing that felt as painful as swallowing fire!

Thanks Jane, I mean it though, if this keeps happening, you and I won't be friends anymore, clear??

Who does he think he is?! Ultimatums get me SO riled up!

Clear
Cool!! 👍 🙂

I didn't bother replying, I was too angry. I began to think it might not be worth it after all. I was so, unimaginably tired of the pretence. As clear as it was to me that Gavin liked me, it was becoming increasingly clearer that he liked Eradikate more. Or perhaps he was just trying to be fair to her like he told me before, he could only be with her because in his mind he was talking to her first, perhaps once I'd gotten rid of her it would redirect his focus. Maybe he'd see how much better I was for him. Or perhaps it would only make things worse, make him more fixated on her. Well, at least I'd be there to comfort him. Maybe he could learn to love me more? I sounded pathetic, I knew I did, but I didn't care, I'd come too far to give up now.
I'd rung Eradikate three times with zero answer and I was getting more and more frustrated, beyond prepared to march right to her front door and break it open for me to get this over with and be back in Gavin's good graces. Ughhhh answer your phone you half wit!
"What Jane"?! She abruptly shouted down the phone. Who does that blind bat think she is?! "Hi Kate, listen I'm really sorry about before, you have to know I'd never try and sabotage your relationship, things genuinely happened like I said at the club, and I'm sorry we didn't tell you about our feelings, Gavin wanted to but I told him not to freak you out over a non starter". Glad to be done of the acidic words, I waited for Eradikate to respond: "But you want him for yourself yeah"? "That's why you keep making all these comments"? Yup, got it in one!. "Look Kate, to answer your question from earlier, no my feelings haven't gone away, but I'd never do anything to hurt you, you're one of my best friends, I only make those comments coz that's my sense of humour, and Nelson does it too". "Yeah well, not as much as you". She mumbled, echoing Gavin's words: "And besides it's not even just that, you make snide remarks about the way I talk, my job, it's like you think I'm not good enough for Gavin or something". You're not: "I'm sorry Kate, I truly didn't mean to make you feel like that, I just enjoy teasing people that's all". "So it's not because you secretly hate me and you're jealous"? Hate? Yes, Jealousy? Never would I ever stoop so low! "Of course not, I just like messing with you, plus the PDA was starting to get a bit annoying, and the way you kept goading me about Nelson". There was a pause at the other end of the line: …"You do wear that dress a lot though". I giggled: "Yeah because I like the dress silly not because I wanna steal your boyfriend"! I heard her sigh: "You think I overreacted don't you"? I laughed again: "Maybe a little, look Gavin chose you ok"? "It's you he wants, not me". That felt like a knife to the chest, thankfully, I knew it was only about 45% true. Eradikate sighed again: "I'm sorry Jane, about everything, Gavin just always used to go on about how smart and funny you were, I was excited to meet you but, part of me felt scared and insecure about losing him to you". I smiled, a proud, evil, devilish smile: "There's no need, and for the record, I don't think you're stupid". A complete fabrication, wow, I'm getting better and better at this by the second! "Thanks, hey can I ask you something"? "Course, what's up"? "Did er, did Gavin ever talk about me, you know, the way he used to talk about you to me"? Nope! Haha you desperate sheep! "Yeah, he did, he really cares about you Kate". "Well, I'm glad, coz I really care about him, and you". Gag, you expect me to feel sorry for you after what you pulled this morning?! "Thanks for calling Jane, I'm really happy we're still friends". I smiled, triumphant that things were back on track: "Yeah me too".
I spent the next couple of weeks doing some damage control, I behaved like the perfect friend! I took Eradikate shopping one on one, (totally unbearable by the way) I refrained from all backhanded comments, laughed at all The Nuisance's dumb jokes without rolling my eyes. I even cooked dinner for everyone one night! Without putting anything in Eradikate's food, enticing as it was to do so.
Things were back to normal and it seemed like Gavin had forgotten all about the blow up the morning after the club. He got the teaching job in the end too! Just like I knew he would! I had to take The Nuisance with me to wait for him to get out of his interview. I wanted to sneak in, but I didn't like my chances, hiding is a lot more difficult when you're one of three in a small room. It was originally expected to be just Eradikate going to support him, but I had to be there too! So I suggested we all go so it looked less weird. He looked so excited when he came out bless him, I was second to hug him! At least I wasn't third, and the next time he had an important event, I'd be first! We had the low key celebration Gavin wanted this time, a few pizza's, I teased Gavin when he ordered his standard pineapple as usual, He and The Nuisance had a beer, both determined not to get bladdered again, not that I cared much this time, I already had my plans arranged. Eradikate and I had a couple cocktails, while I fantasised about all the ways I could end her existence for good! I'd been thinking about how to get her on her own that whole second week! I didn't have a car, so I couldn't drive her anywhere, I thought about taking a train somewhere, disguising it as a girl's vaca and finishing her off wherever we went, but that would require more unnecessary quality time. I decided to simply invite her over and get her to keep it under wraps, I told her I wanted to plan a surprise for Gavin for his birthday, unfortunately it wasn't for another month, but fortunately Eradikate only ever asks a couple questions at a time, it was ridiculously easy to fool the spineless spit on my shoe! I didn't need a weapon, like Eradikate herself once said, I had very firm hands. I sat at the edge of my sofa anxiously awaiting Eradikate's arrival. Then, at long last, I heard that beautiful door knocking sound and I ran to open it! "Heeeyyyy"!! "Hi Kate". I answered with an excited smile as I beckoned her in and closed the door behind her, this was it! "No one knows you're here right"? "Nope". She answered shaking her head: "You didn't wanna get Nelson in on this"? "Nah, I don't hate him anywhere near as much as I hate you". "Huh"? I lunged for her, wrapping my hands tight around her throat and pinning her against the wall beside the front door. I felt utterly thrilled by the look of shock and horror on her face, squeezing her neck was like squeezing one of those stress balls Toady got me to try and quote "ease my anxiety" or whatever: "Ja- I- don- ". She struggled: "You don't understand"?! "Seriously"?! "Wow, you really are that thick aren't you"?! "Gavin, that's why"! "You know, we were doing perfectly fine before you showed up, and to top it off, you had the nerve to embarrass me in front of him and Nelson"! I yelled, squeezing tighter as she struggled for breath, the satisfaction I got from that particular high was frightening: "I-I thou-" "Thought what bitch"?! "You thought we sorted that"?! I laughed maniacally right in her ear: "We didn't sort anything, this is me sorting it, you know I actually thought we could be friends, but you just wouldn't co operate would you"?! "Pleees- Jan-e, Gav-in-" "Don't worry, I'll take great care of him". I reassured with a smile: "Oh, and by the way, I lied, Gavin never once mentioned you to me you gullible simp, that's partly why I got so upset when we first met but you know, now that I think about it it's actually kinda funny, him talking about me all the time to you but him never mentioning you once to me, what does that tell you"? "Huh Kate"? "What does that tell you about how much you mean to your precious Gavin"? "Huh"? She tried to fight back, tried to pull herself from off the wall but I held her there tighter, stronger: "I think it's about time I told you your nickname, don't you"? I leant in close and whispered in her ear: "Eradikate". tears started spilling down her face and I watched as the life slowly drained from her features, just like in that dream I had a while back, I threw her to the ground and her body hit the floor with a loud thud! I'd done it! I'd actually done it! Gavin was mine! Now I had to find somewhere to store the body. I wish this was one of those crime shows where I had a strong accomplice who could do all the heavy lifting. I wasn't the tallest person around, and Eradikate was significantly taller than me. I could use the attic downstairs. I contemplated, all I'd have to do was drag her there and lock the door behind her, it may only be a temporary fix but it would definitely do for now.
I took her by the wrist and began dragging her in the direction of the attic, she was starting to get cold, I wasn't dreaming, I'd actually killed Kate Morrison! I've always wondered how it would feel to be a killer, to know you had someone's life in your hands and you took it without even blinking! It felt weirdly exhilarating, I felt invincible, like I could do practically anything! Eradikate was heavier than I expected. I opened the door to the attic and shoved her down the stairs, again just like my dream! Smirking, I went down to where her bruised body had landed and located her phone in her pocket: "Bye Eradikate"! I waved, taking the phone, walking back up the stairs and locking the door behind me. I then went into the kitchen, got a hammer, put the phone on the table and smashed it into smithereens, like I'd wanted to do to Eradikate the minute Gavin told me who she was. I put the smashed up pieces of Eradikate's phone into a plastic bag and dumped the plastic bag into one of the big dustbins outside my house. I felt like a huge weight was lifted and to celebrate? You guessed it! I sent Gavin a quick message:
Message To: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
FEB 20th 8:15PM
Hey Gav 🙂 wuu2??
Nm really, just chilling with Nels you??

Hmm I wonder if Nelson will be my next victim… I thought Eh, probably not, he's harmless.

I'm kinda bored, want some female company??? 🙂
Sure! The more the merrier! Hey, Kate should be off from work by now but I've not heard from her have you???

Ugh! Stop asking me about her!!! Killing her was SO not among my list of regrets!

No sorry, want me to ring her??
No it's fine, I'm sure she's just preoccupied atm 🙂 see you in 5??

I smiled:

See ya!! 🙂

Before leaving for Gavin's that evening, I spent some special time looking through all 221 of the photos I'd gathered over the past few months, I knew I'd have to get rid of them for good just in case, which meant deleting them from the album, the cloud and every possible backup that could be traced. I'd also have to hide The Gavin Drawer, now I knew I wouldn't be found so questionable that the po po would need a guided tour of my house, but I wasn't taking any chances. I knew the attic would be a safe place to keep it for the time being, there was even a small compartment in a corner that was all cluttered up with old junk I had no clue what to do with, I was sure it'd be safe amongst all the forgotten bits and bobs, all I had to do was brave the smell, it might be nice to see how Eradikate was doing down there anyway, I studied about dead bodies for a science project in year 11, apparently a human head remains conscious for 20 seconds after being decapitated! Shame I never tested that out on Eradikate huh? I knew deleting all the pictures would be horrible and heart wrenching but it was necessary, plus, I had the real thing now, what did I need pictures for?
A few days had past since I Eradikated Gavin's annoying side piece, and everyone was starting to panic. I wished I'd given her an excuse as to why she wasn't around, but I figured the less I said the less guilty I looked later. But her parents had rung Gavin to ask if he'd seen her, apparently that was the first time they'd ever spoken, but that's when he really started to freak. Before I knew what was happening I was helping pass out MISSING posters all over town. It was sad, it seamed like she was loved by a lot of people, must've been nice. I met some of her friends when Gavin was rounding up reinforcements for the search, I even met Eradikate's younger sister Holly. I won't lie, meeting her made me feel a small pang of guilt, I knew what it was like to be 16, needing your older sibling to be there for you, and I'd taken away her's. But then, she had others who cared for her: both parents, other family members, friends. I didn't have anyone but Gavin and her pampered pooch of a sister was keeping him from me! The police started lurking around now too, asking everyone who knew Eradikate various questions: her normal routine, anyone she could've gone to stay with, who might've had an agenda against her etc. The Nuisance must've mentioned his suspicions about me to them because they came over twice! However, thanks to my preparations they had nothing to go on.They were clearly trying to catch me out to see if I'd slip up or something, As I thought, they wanted to search our phones for anything that may have looked sketchy, which is why I got rid of all the photos of Gavin, his house and all the ones I'd taken when I visited him for the first time. I also changed everyone's names in my contacts to their actual names and removed the emojis. I had to explained the texts about my backhanded comments, I ended up telling them that Gavin and I had something but that it was over long before he and Eradikate got together and the little tiff we all had was a mere misunderstanding, by the sounds of things, Gavin told them something similar. I made sure to mention that Eradikate and I were best friends and that I loved her like a sister, that I'd never do anything to hurt her. They didn't search the house in the end, guess I passed the test! I knew I would! The smell of Eradikate's decomposing body was starting to seep through the attic door so I kept having to cover it up with fabreeze. My house smelled of spiced apple and vanilla after all that frantic spraying. When a police officer looked puzzled by this I told him I had a strange obsession with fabreeze smells. And i had to explain why I'd changed my last name, I told them I just didn't like my old one because it reminded me of my dead beat dad, a fairly decent excuse and not a total lie. At least none of the other stuff was particularly relevant to the case, imagine if they managed to get a hold of where I really went to uni and it got back to Gavin! And after all my hard work! Disastrous! I was trying to be there for Gavin more and more and it was great! The quality time, the closeness, how much he was leaning on me. The Nuisance was a lot quieter these days, as I said, he seamed to be way more suspicious of me. I don't think he mentioned anything to Gavin thank goodness, he was just sort of…. There, in the background waiting for me to make a wrong move. But like the police, he had nothing on me. I was at Gavin's one afternoon as he sat anxiously at the kitchen table fiddling with his thumbs, I've never seen him do that before, it made me so sad to know I'd done that to him, but happier to know it was for the greater good: "it's been 11 days, 11 days and nothing, I've called, texted, how could no one not know anything"? "Maybe she just needed to get away from everything". "From what"? "Everything was good, we were good, her whole life's here, her family, her friends, her job, no way would she just up and leave like that, and all her stuff is still at her's: passport, clothes, bathroom stuff, debit card, where could she even go with no money and no clothes"? "Are you starting to think something else happened"? Gavin shook his head: "I don't know, I mean, maybe". He sighed: "There must be someone with a motive to see Kate disappear, someone we've not looked into yet". "She was so loved". I soothed, rubbing his shoulder: "who'd want"- his head snapped to me, making me quickly remove my hand: "Why did you say was"? "It was a slip of the tongue, I'm sorry". "You think she's dead don't you"? Uh uh honey, I KNOW she's dead! "Of course I don't"! "Look, we'll find her ok"? "I promise, I'll keep ringing her too". I added, going to find my contacts and fake my way through this: "You know there is one person we haven't closely evaluated". The Nuisance stated, walking into the kitchen and folding his arms as he leaned against the kitchen door, he just looked at me, waiting for Gavin to catch on, he turned to face me then looked back at The Nuisance: "What are you implying"? "I'm just saying, don't you think it's weird, Jane has this massive crush on you"- "Er, excuse me"! "She hides how she feels, she runs out the second you intro Kate, then all of a sudden Kate just disappears"? "You can't tell me that's not strange". "Nelson, Jane is one of our best friends, Kate's included, she wouldn't do something like that". "She would if she was after you". "Don't be ridiculous"! "Ok, what about how often she's been hanging around huh"?! "It's called being a friend"! "It's called being shady, Jane"? "Anything to say"? Both heads turned to me, luckily, this time I was prepared: "I've been helping you guys look day and night, I've put up posters with you, co operated with the police, why would I do any of that if I had something to hide"? Wow, I'd become so good at lying to them, I almost believed my tales! "See"? "I've seen enough crime drama's to know the guilty one always likes to involve themselves in the case". "Ok then, by that logic, I could suspect you"! I fired back, pointing my finger at him for good measure. I sighed, propping my elbows up on the table and leaning forward: "Look, I miss her too, but the last thing she'd want is us turning on each other when we could be finding her". That seamed to shut him up. Good! Finally! "So you do believe we'll find her then"? Gavin asked: "Of course I do".
Weeks went by of "Searching" for Eradikate, it seemed like that was all we did lately. The police had no leads and Gavin was exhausted poor thing. We checked out some of Eradikate's favourite places, Southend beach, Brighton, we even went to Canterbury! It felt like we were travelling everywhere to find this girl! The further away from home we found ourselves, the more hopeless I saw Gavin start to look, his bright, sparkly green eyes were now dull, lifeless, tired and had bags underneath them, sending him on that wild goose chase was one of the most awful things I've ever done. We'd gotten to know Eradikate's family during all the searching and consoling we were all doing, I did feel really bad for them, they were good people, especially Holly, none of them deserved this, neither did Gavin. I just didn't know what else to do! She wouldn't budge! To make up for things, I brought the family some food I'd made myself: chicken, this fish stew thing I often made when I needed some comfort food, I saved some for Gavin too, he was very taken with it. I even made them some chocolate chip cookies. I also took some time to check in on Holly, not in a way that would make me look suspicious but I couldn't sit back and watch them all suffer because of me! So I advised her about studying for A levels, made up funny stories I could tell her about Eradikate, and I listened, no matter how annoying it was hearing about what a saint that rotting Corps in my attic was, I listened to her, nodded along and gave sympathetic smiles and hugs, On top of all that i got to give her advice about a guy she liked, told her to do whatever it took to get him and to never stop fighting, after all that's what I was doing, not that I told her that part obviously.
Gavin's birthday came around and I couldn't wait to spend it with him without anymore distractions:
Message To: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
MAR 29th 7:50AM
Happy birthday!! 🙂

It was some minutes before he responded, I assumed he was still out looking for Eradikate:

Message from: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
MAR 29th 8:20AM
Thanks
Have you been out looking all night???
Yup
Anything??
Would my texts sound so somber if there was???
😔 sorry Gav… you should've let me come with you! I could've lightened the load a little
Thanks Jane… for everything but you've done enough, you've got your own life to live without getting mixed up in my mess

Oh Gavin…. You are my life I wanted to text back, but I couldn't yet, so instead I texted:

Kate's my friend and so are you! I wanna help as much as I can!
Yeah and you have, but clearly we're not gonna find her anytime soon, even the police are starting to give up!
WHAT?! They can't! It's too soon! Have they said something??
No but I can tell, they keep giving each other this weird look like "we've hit a dead end" I can't keep asking you and Nels to put your lives on hold, didn't you miss a deadline last week???

Ah, yeah that…. well, I had to make it look believable!

You and Kate are more important than some stupid article!
Yeah well maybe we shouldn't be… the school even emailed me to ask when I'd be back….
Wow… what happened to compassionate leave???
Apparently "compassion" only lasts 5 weeks and 1 day….
I'm sorry…. 🤗🤗🤗 what did you tell them??
Havnt replied yet, don't have the energy

My heart broke, I hated seeing him like this:

I'd like to come cheer you up if you'll let me, I've got you a gift 🙂
K why not, just let me have a nap first yeah?? I'm beyond drained
Ok
Thanks 🙂
Normally for such a significant occasion as this I'd have gotten dressed up, but I didn't want Gavin to think I was being callous, so I wore something simple. Leggings and a comfy, warm jumper. Gift in hand, I knocked on the door, a few seconds later Gavin answered: "Hey". He greeted solemnly: "Happy birthday". I answered, giving him a small smile and holding the present out to him: "Thanks". He replied, taking it and walking into the living room, I closed the door and followed. "So, any embarrassing happy birthday phone calls"? I asked as we entered the living room: "Yeah, my mum called earlier and Emmet and my dad texted, they wanted to come over but I told them I'd go see them when I'm in a better mood". He explained as he sat on the sofa, placing the present beside him.it was a total travesty that even dead, Eradikate was getting in the way! This could've been such a great opportunity to meet Gavin's family! Though, I was sure it would happen eventually, just like everything else: "Do they know what's going on"? "Yeah, I sent them a picture, they said they'd keep an eye out". I nodded: "That's encouraging". I answered putting on a hopeful smile, he nodded back: "I suppose". "Nels not in"? I asked, trying to relieve a little of the tense atmosphere in the room: "He had a meeting to get to, he was gonna blow it off but I told him he should go, more or less shoved him out the door, like I told you this morning, I can't expect you lot to wait around forever". his voice was quiet and hollow. I watched him slowly unwrap the gift I'd gotten him, he nodded appreciatively at it but his facial expression remained stoney: "Thanks". I sighed, going over to sit beside him on the sofa: "You hate it don't you"? "I'm sorry, I knew the colour was a tad risky, I just thought black was such a cliché, but I wanted you to have something fancy for all those events and meetings you'll get to go to-" he shook his head: "No it's not that it's just"…. He sighed: "today's my birthday Jane, it would've been the first one Kate and I spent together". Ughhhhhhhh! HOW LONG UNTIL YOU GET OVER THAT WASTE OF AIR?! FOR GOODNESS SAKE! "You know I told you we started talking a few weeks before I met you"? I nodded, trying my best not to let my anger show: "We started talking on August 12th, a couple days before her birthday, it didn't really count coz we'd only just started speaking… this was supposed to be different, I know you probably think I'm being dumb, I know we haven't been together long but…. We were talking for a good few months before we started dating…. I really got to know and care about her you know"? I nodded again, understanding overpowering the anger I was feeling: "I know, and I don't think you're being dumb, I mean, we Havnt known each other long either but I'd still be sad if you went missing". Understatement! I think it would pretty much destroy me! I began imagining what it would be like if Gavin went missing… or worse! And a huge lump lodged itself in my throat, my stomach tightened and for one dreadful second I'd forgotten how to breathe: "me too". He affirmed, giving me a small smile which pulled me back to the amazing, incredible fact that Gavin was still here! He exhaled and leant back against the sofa, head tipped back: "Where could she be Jane"? "Still trying her phone"? He nodded, I looked straight ahead and lent forward slightly, hands clasped together: "Maybe… maybe she doesn't wanna be found". Gavin sat up and gave me the most fiery glare I thought I'd burn to ashes right there on the spot! "How could she not wanna be found Jane"?! "Her little sister's here, her parents, her friends, she has people here that need her, her whole life's here"- I turned to him, reaching for his arm: "Ok, ok, I'm sorry, I'm sorry it was just a suggestion"- he shot up: "Well it was a dumb one ok"?! "She isn't selfish, she wouldn't do that, she just wouldn't"! He then began pacing the floor, I've never seen him like that before, and in that single moment, I wished I had a time machine, I never really understood that phrase "If you love someone set them free if they come back it's meant to be" until I saw the strongest person I've ever known become unglued: "Aren't boyfriends supposed to, I don't know, protect their girlfriend's or something"?! "Gavin"- "No, no she could be lying in a ditch somewhere for all I know and everyone's slowly gonna start giving up, I've told you it's already happening"! I got up and managed to take hold of his arms this time, finally stilling him: "I'm not ok"? "I never will, that isn't what I meant, I'll always be here"- he pushed me away from him: "No, no that isn't good enough Jane I need to find her"! "I need to find her"… then I saw something that tore me apart and made me regret absolutely everything. Gavin dropped to his knees, put his head in his hands, and cried, I didn't even think he knew how! I rushed over to him and wrapped him in my arms, rubbing his back: "Shhh I know, I know, shhh it's ok, it's ok baby, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry"… I mumbled repetitively, planting kisses into his hair and rocking him back and forth. I wiped a few of my own tears away too, I've never seen him so… broken. If i'd known he cared about her this much maybe i'd have tried harder to get her with The Nuisance, or someone else, or maybe i'd have just asked her nicely to step aside and explained how I felt about him, why did I have to be so drastic all the time?! If I didn't hate myself before, that moment certainly did the trick.
"I'm sorry". He said softly, his head resting in my lap, I was trying to soothe him by running my fingers through his hair, it seamed to be working: "You don't have to be sorry for showing emotion Gavin". "So you don't think less of me for being a complete mess right now then"? "It's 2022 no one thinks like that anymore, besides, it's not like I Havnt cried in front of you before is it"? I reminded him, offering him a small smile which he returned: "Guess we're even huh"? I gave him another soft, reassuring smile: "I didn't realise you cared about her so much". "I suppose, when you're around someone all the time you get used to them you know"? "I don't know, maybe I took her for granted". "I don't think you did, I think you've been a great boyfriend". I released him as he sat up to face me: "Then why can't I help her"? "Why can't I find her"? He looked like a lost, scared little kid, all I wanted at that moment was to shield him from the world and keep him safe: "Because you can't control everything, you're not psychic , or superman, you can't protect her from everything and you can't beat yourself up because we haven't found her yet, none of this is your fault". I told him, shaking my head, he let out a shaky breath: "I just want one moment, one moment where I don't feel tired, and sad, and scared, and helpless, and hopeless, and guilty, and lonely and…" he trailed off, letting out another breath, he closed his eyes and pressed his forehead against mine: "I just want a break, I just wanna feel something different for one moment… please Jane". I placed a hand on his cheek, just like that night in my room, he lifted his head, opened his eyes and i wiped away some stray tears that remained in his eyes: "Gavin listen to me, you never have to beg me for anything ok"? "I'll do anything to make you happy again". He gave me another weak smile and then… well…. I don't know who leant in first but that kiss was everything! It was so soft, and gentle, and tender, it was like coming home after a long, hard day: my lips were at home on his, my hands were at home in his hair. It appeared that he felt that way too, his hands found familiar places at my back and in my hair, like muscle memory or something. And then he whispered: "It feels like we've been here before". I nodded, I couldn't believe I was about to discover new parts of home. I'd been imagining what physicality with Gavin Thomas would be like ever since the day I met him: I always imagined it being wild and passionate, like in those movies where the main characters start their encounter the second they got into the bedroom, unable to keep their hands off each other a moment longer, the guy taking complete control of the girl's every sense! But in reality it was a lot gentler than that, we held each other, took our time to examine every detail, spent extra time on our favourite parts of each other. When I was stripped down in front of him, nervous and cold, he ran his fingertips down the length of my body, then cupped my cheek, looked deep into my eyes and said I was beautiful. I couldn't tell if this was because Gavin was sad and didn't have the energy to be how he actually was or if this was just how he was, all I knew was that for 10 of the best minutes of my life neither of us were thinking about Eradikate, there was no lying, no hiding, no plotting, no scheming, just me and the man I loved more than life itself, it was so much better than trying to get him to do it after the club, he'd actually initiated it! We weren't just "having sex" we were making love, and it was beautiful. Without the alcohol he tasted like mint and a touch of the coffee he must've had that morning, I wanted to savour the feeling for as long as possible.
Afterwards I lay in his arms, just like that night after the club, only this time there was nothing between us, we were completely vulnerable before one another, like that Spice Girls song they always play at Christmas: "when two become one". I felt so connected to him, Gavin's hands switched from my hair to up and down my arm as we enjoyed the silence for a few moments before he spoke again: "Thanks Jane, I really needed that". I lifted my head to look up at him: "Me too". I leant up and kissed him softly once more before laying back against his chest: "How do you feel now"? I heard him chuckle for the first time in weeks! Wow, didn't realise I was that good! "Satisfied". His tone went all serious again: "Cared for, looked after"… I looked up to meet his eyes again: "You are". I kissed him a third time, then settled back down against him: "Gavin"? "Yeah"? "Can I tell you something"? "Of course, anything". I looked back up at him: "I love you". I saw shock flash across his face, then I saw it give way to guilt and sadness: "I'm sorry, I know this is really bad timing I just, I've felt like this for a while and I knew if I didn't tell you soon I'd explode, it took all my effort not to blurt it out in the middle of everything just then". He remained silent: "Gavin, please say something". He sighed: "I'm sorry Jane I… I don't know what I can say or what I can offer you right now, my head's such a mess at the moment, I don't know if we'll find Kate but we might"… I nodded, putting on an understanding face: "I can wait". "What if I never get there"? "Then we'll always have this moment". He sighed again, shaking his head: "I don't deserve you". "Yes you do". I answered, I probably shouldn't have, but I kissed him again, I couldn't resist: "I feel like I've just taken advantage of you".: "You haven't, I wanted to cheer you up". I answered, stroking the side of his face: "I've wanted to be with you like this for months". Years. "But just so you know, it doesn't mean Nelson was right, I may still have feelings for you but I'd never do anything to hurt Kate, you know that don't you"? His hand was on my cheek now, then he tucked a strand of hair behind my ear, the way he had at the park, everything felt so familiar, so right, so safe: "I wouldn't be here with you like this if I didn't". He kissed me that time, a firm, lingering kiss that told me everything he couldn't say with words: "Ignore Nelson, he's an idiot, fancies himself as a bit of a conspiracy theorist or whatever". We both chuckled and i repositioned myself, resting my head against Gavin's chest once more: "You've been my rock these past few weeks, thank you". I smiled, delighted I could be there for him, even more delighted that he was responding this way: "Always". "And hey, look on the bright side"… Gavin continued, playing with my hair again: "There's every chance Kate'll find out about this and won't want a bar of me anyway". We both let out another round of faint laughter before Gavin sighed: "What do you say we get up, get dressed and go get a cake you can watch me cut"? I sat up and turned to him with a surprised smile: "Yeah"? "You're feeling up to it now"? He nodded: "Yeah, I can go back to feeling sad and miserable tomorrow, right now, I wanna enjoy what's left of my birthday with you and Nels, let me just text him to see if he's out of his meeting yet". "Ok, great"! "But before we do… how about one last kiss, just in case we don't get to do this again". It was a spectacular feeling knowing we absolutely would do it again, still I kissed him as though I thought it could be the last time, and so did he! He kissed me as if he wanted to remember the feeling, as if he wanted to remember my taste, as if he never wanted to stop, but unfortunately, he did, the moment ended with a tender kiss planted on my forehead, then he simply smiled at me and said: "You ready"? I nodded, smiled back and replied: "Back to reality we go"!
I hadn't planned on telling Gavin I loved him so soon like that, it was a moment of pure impulsivity. And since I couldn't exactly tell him much else, it was nice to at least be able to tell him that. I knew eventually he'd feel the same way, even if it took him a little longer, I knew he'd get there. I decided I'd throw Gavin a bone, I felt so bad about everything. So the next day I went out and bought another phone. I downloaded a VPN, turned on Airplane mode, turned off the wifi and for good measure I took a trip across town, just to be safe. I know, going a tiny bit over bored, but I couldn't stand seeing Gavin so unhappy, if he at least thought Eradikate was alive and well, maybe he'd learn to deal? I told Gavin and The Nuisance I was going to some TIME mag gathering so they wouldn't wonder where I was all day, said it was for writers and members only when they asked to come with. The Nuisance was still looking at me as though I were a locked door he was trying to pry open, but with Gavin around to stick up for me, I knew I had nothing to worry about. I took a couple trains down to Devon put my hood up and hid my face in case someone recognised me later and found a park to text Gavin, I hid in this maze I found, lovely, spacious and easy to get lost in:
Message To: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
MAR 30th 14:46PM
Hi Gavin….
Kate?!

Ew no! I thought, repulsed to actually be doing this:

Yeah it's me, how are you??
OMG! KATE!!!! Are you ok??? Where are you???! Why've you changed your number???!
Then he was calling the number, I hung up:

KATE! ANSWER THE PHONE! I'VE BEEN WORRIED SICK! EVERYONE HAS! NELSON, JANE, YOUR FAMILY! WHERE EVEN ARE YOU?!

Then the phone rang again so I hung up a second time:
Please stop calling me, I just wanted to tell you that I'm fine
What do you mean stop calling you?! Did something happen?! I've really missed you! Please, please tell me what's been going on x

I decided that that was good enough, I didn't wanna have to do this longer than absolutely necessary. As long as he thought she was alive and safe, it was all good. Gavin kept calling the phone so I shut it off, then all of a sudden he was calling my phone! I couldn't answer, I told him I was at a gathering all day. Then he was texting me.

Message from: Gavin❤️❤️❤️
MAR 30th 14:51PM
Sorry, forgot you were busy, please text me ASAP!!!

I turned the phone back on, figured I should throw someone else a little bone too…. I turned on the mobile data and searched the web for Facebook, Eradikate, thankfully was logged out and I knew her email. All I had to do next was select: "Forgot password", renew it and walla I was in! I searched for Holly's profile and tapped the message icon, all the while the phone kept ringing and ringing and ringing: Gee he really does have it bad, I wonder how bad he'd freak if I went missing….

Holly Morrison:
Hey Hols, hope you're doing well, just wanted to let you know that everything's fine, you, mum and dad don't need to worry ok? Love you all loads! xxx

I got a reply almost straight away:

Kate?! OMG WHERE ARE YOU?! EvERYONE'S BEEN SO WORRIED!

There's no need, I'm perfectly fine, I just needed to get away that's all 

But why?! What for?! I don't get it!

I just needed a breather that's all but everything's ok I promise! 

Are you coming back??

Not sure, anyway, I should go, say hi to mum and dad for me, love you xx

I turned the phone off again, and caught a cab back home, the less people I crossed paths with the better, I still kept my hood up and face down though. I knew I couldn't do this too often, but maybe a couple more times?
A week went by, and yes, even though I tried to protect my location, the phone was still tracked, good thing I was smart about things. I followed everyone back to Devon, we looked in the location of the park I went to and the surrounding areas, showing people Eradikate's photo and asking people if they saw anything. I was so glad no one saw me, that could've been very sticky. Everyone was confused. Both Gavin and Holly were messaging the phone now, which meant a couple more trips to a couple more places before calling it a day. I just told them to stop messaging. Gavin was becoming increasingly impatient:
"Why's she stopped messaging us"? "Why won't she tell us where she is or why she left"? "Why won't she come back"? I shook my head: "I don't know Gavin, but hey, at least we know she's safe". He nodded slowly: "That's something I guess". "Come on, you said it yourself she isn't selfish, why would she just be off sunning herself when everyone's sat around anxious over her"? The Nuisance chimed in: "People change Nels". I answered: "And you're just ok with believing that are you Gav"? "Of course not, but what other explanation is there"? The Nuisance glanced my way yet again before sighing and getting up to put an arm around Gavin: "We'll get to the bottom of it alright mate"? "We'll get to the bottom of it and we'll bring her home ok"? Oh no hunny, no we won't…
There were two more months of this, watching Gavin agonise over she who is no more, I went to some more far off places: Suffolk, Sutton, east Hampshire, all spaced out of course. Someone recognised me in Sutton! I had to make up a story about doing research for my next article. As if The Nuisance needed anymore ammunition against me! But it's not like he could prove anything, and if he ever stepped over the line… well… I'd developed quite a taste for blood, and that feeling you get after solving an Eradikate shaped problem? Indescribable! Anyway, I took some time to message Holly, while at my locations, she seamed to be a bit more satisfied that Eradikate was alright than Gavin did. I updated Eradikate's Facebook, talking all about her new life, Gavin left some bitter comments I didn't reply to, desiring to put as much distance between them as possible, it was definitely time he let go now he knew she was ok and embrace, well, me! I'd waited far beyond long enough. I watched Gavin scroll through a handful of the statuses I'd put up on Eradikate's behalf: "I'm getting sick of this". He commented, not looking up from his phone: "Me too". I admitted, him completely oblivious as to how layered that statement was: "Do you think it's weird that she hasn't updated her Twitter or Instagram"? I shrugged: "Probably just means she uses Facebook more". He sighed, putting his phone down and facing me: "Maybe it's time to face facts, she doesn't wanna be found". "But why"?! "I don't understand"! "Me neither, but she's a grown woman, as long as she's safe and happy she can do what she likes". "Oh and what screw everyone else yeah"? "She's the one that's decided to be selfish ok not me, look, we know she's ok, she's messaged, called"- "Wait, she called you?! "Why didn't you tell me"?! "Because she didn't deserve that". "What she didn't or I didn't"? "She doesn't get to keep hurting you Gavin, telling you would've only made things worse". He sighed: "What did she say"? "It doesn't matter". I answered shaking my head: "Tell me right now or you and I are gonna have a big problem". Geez fine! "She's met someone else". Gavin looked taken aback: "What"? "She actually told you that"? I nodded: "That's what she meant when she said she was enjoying her new life with new friends, it's clear she doesn't give a damn about any of us anymore". "What's the guy's name"? "Scott". Gavin rolled his eyes: "You may not wanna hear this but, maybe it's time to move on, I mean, she clearly has". "She's even stopped messaging Holly". He reflected, face downcast: "Perhaps you're right, it doesn't seam like she wants to come home, but why"? "What exactly was so wrong that she had to do this"? He looked back up at me: "Did she tell you anything"? "No, sorry Gav". He let out a long breath, leaning back against the chair he was sat on: "So, now what do we do"? I shrugged: "There's not a lot we can do, the police haven't got anything else to go on, we've heard from her multiple times, maybe… maybe we need to start getting on with our own lives". There was a beat of silence before Gavin slowly nodded: "I haven't even been able to give my students a hundred per cent, they deserve better". I leant forward, arms on the table: "So do you". Then to my absolute glee, Gavin leant forward too, taking my hand in his! THIS IS IT! THIS IS FINALLY IT!! "You do too, you've been amazing through all this, I wouldn't have blamed you if you'd have jumped ship". I squeezed his hand: "I told you I'd wait". "You shouldn't have had to, I've been so neglectful of you, not only since Kate's been away, but ever since I told you she was my girlfriend, I'm sorry". I smiled: "It's ok". "What would I have done without you these past three months"? I laughed: "No idea". He laughed too, rolling his eyes playfully: "Cheeky as ever aren't you"? "I love you Jane". My whole body went into shock: "S-say that again". He laughed again: "I love you Jane Hughs". I leaped onto his lap so fast and wrapped my arms around him so tight it almost knocked him off balance, but he caught me, of course he did, wrapping me up in his big, strong arms: "Oh Gavin, baby I love you too, so, so much"! I nearly cried with overwhelming happiness! I crashed my lips into his and poured out every ounce of affection I had for him into that one desperate kiss: "I love you, I love you I love you I love you I love you"… Gavin just smiled, his beautiful green eyes lighting up the whole room: "I love you too, and I'm gonna spend as long as you want me to showing you that, ok"? I nodded: "Sounds perfect".
So, at long last, after almost a whole year of meticulous planning, I was Gavin Thomas's girlfriend! May 25th was officially my favourite day on Earth ! Spring had well and truly sprung! I stayed over at Gavin's for two nights and it was unforgettable! We'd fall asleep cuddling each other, we held hands all the time, he even took me to a restaurant he'd been dying to check out but never got the chance, he never took Eradikate there! I smirked every time I thought about that fact, which was a lot, I was truly the cat that got the cream. The Nuisance still had his back up, he was barely speaking to either of us, I could tell the tension was killing Gavin. It was like he was losing everyone he ever cared for, I didn't intend to isolate him. I tried talking to The Nuisance, he said he'd try to make more of an effort with Gavin but "had his eye on me". I almost laughed, he was no match for me. Three days went by since Gavin and I got together, we were curled up in bed like the past two nights, enjoying each other's company, Gavin playing absentmindedly with my hair: "Hey". "Yeah"? "I've been thinking"… I laughed: "Uh oh, that's never good". I joked: "Oh ha ha, you're hilarious"! He remarked playfully slapping my arm: "Ow"! I overreacted before slapping his chest: "what"? "You wanna fight"? Are you forgetting my spectacular victory at the park"?! Before I could respond he grabbed my wrists and flipped us over so he was hovering over me, squeezing my wrists tight, not too tight though, he'd never hurt me. He looked at me triumphantly, I just smirked: "So did you just wanna restrain me or tickle me again"? "Coz you know you can't do both right"? "Can't I"? He pulled me upright with him, took his pinky finger from off my wrist and began tickling my stomach with it! Cheek! I laughed uncontrollably, memories of that time at the park flooding back, oh how far we'd come since that day: "Ok, ok, point proven"! "Let go"! I giggled: "Wow, you gave up loads quicker than last time, I'm almost disappointed". He said releasing me: "Gosh you're so cocky"! "What do I even see in you anyway"?! I mocked: "Well, for starters"… He leant in and kissed me so hungrily, so passionately that when he pulled away I was actually left breathless! "You were saying"? Gavin asked positively simpering: "I hate you so much". I huffed, folding my arms: "Love you too baby". I couldn't help smile when he said that, it was just like that text he'd sent me months back, only this time, he meant it the way I'd always dreamed: "Anyway you were saying"? He chuckled: "Right, yeah, er, I was thinking about going to see Kate's family". Oh for goodness sake! Eradikate again?! I thought we were finally done with her! "Why"? "It just doesn't feel right you know"? "Me moving on while they're still hanging on to her, I just wanna make sure they're Ok with it". "And what"? "If not that's it"? "We're done"? "Your just gonna go back to being unhappy"? "Course not, I just feel like I owe them a heads up you know"? "They're still going through a lot". I nodded I love how caring he is: "Ok, do you need me to come with you"? Gavin shook his head: "Nah, I think I should do this myself". I nodded: "Ok, if you're sure". "Yeah, I'm sure, it won't be easy, but I think we could all do with some closure".
So the next day an apprehensive Gavin took the short trip to Kate's house, he took a few seconds to collect his thoughts before knocking on the door: "Gavin"! Kate's mum Anna greeted with a huge hug: "Where have you been"?! "We've been trying to get a hold of you for days"! Gavin's heart went out to Kate's family, especially her mum, he'd become very fond of them in those last months: "I'm sorry I've been so out of touch, I actually wanted to talk to you about that, can I come in"? "Course darling come in". She answered, setting him free of the hug and leading him by the arm into the kitchen where Kate's dad and Holly were: "Hey Gav". Holly greeted with a smile and a wave: "Anna's been trying to call you". Kate's dad chastened, disappointment written on his face: "I know, I'm sorry, I'm glad you're all here actually, I wanted to talk to you about"- "Have you heard from Kate again"? Gavin swallowed, looking down at his feet: "No, sorry". "Is it weird to you that she's only ever messeged you and Hols"? Gavin nodded: "it's definitely weird, and I wanted to talk to you all about that". They all looked eagerly at him, waiting for him to continue: "I think it's time we all moved forward with our lives". Anna looked visibly heartbroken: "What"? "We know she's alive and safe, but clearly she isn't coming back"- "We don't know that"! Anna yelled, Gavin nodded: "I think we do, and, and I think it's unfair of her to expect us to wait around forever". "But it's only been three months"! "Whats brought this on"? Dave asked, Gavin shook his head: "I really don't wanna get into it, I just wanted you to know"- "No, I wanna know why you're giving up on my daughter, you do realise this could be someone playing a cruel trick on us right"? Anna asked: "Who'd do that"? There was a pause: "Look, I never meant to hurt any of you, and I never thought I'd be saying any of this but… she seems to have moved on, I have to too, I just wanted to do you all the curtesy of a head's up that's all". Dave rolled his eyes: "That's awfully big of you isn't it"? He sneered: "Is there someone else"? "Is that why you're giving up"? Anna asked, beginning to get emotional now: "I'm not giving up because of anyone, I'm giving up because she seems fine". "Looks can be deceiving". "Even the police have given up"- "They've not got as much at stake"! Dave sighed, attempting to approach Anna to comfort her but she steps away: "Anna"- "No"! "No, he doesn't just get to walk away from our daughter like this Dave"! She turns back toward Gavin, tears gathering in her eyes: "You are so lucky you just get to move on like this, coz we can't, Dave and I will never have another eldest daughter, Holly will never have another big sister"… "Mum, it isn't like she's dead, I mean she just messeged me a few weeks back to ask how college is going, she's obviously choosing not to come home there's a difference". "No, no she would've rang me, I'm her mum, she hasn't rung any of you either has she"? A hush fell over the room before Anna spoke again: "See"?! "Until we've actually heard her voice for ourselves we can't be sure of anything"! Gavin stuffed his hands deep into the pockets of his jeans and began shuffling from foot to foot: "She er, she rang Jane". Holly, Anna and Dave were stunned: "You're having us on right"? Dave asked: "Why didn't you tell us"? Anna mumbled in utter shock: "I only just found out myself". "Why would she ring Jane and not us"? "What did she say"? Gavin shrugged: "Not much, just that she was ok and that she'd moved on, met someone else": "Wow… Sorry Gav, that must really hurt". Holly sympathised, Gavin nodded appreciatively: "Thanks, anyway, I hope you can see why I have to try and start getting on with things now, and I hope you can all try and accept it". Anna and Dave glared at him, a mix of anger, hurt and confusion etched into their features, Gavin gulped inaudibly: "I'll go". "Yeah you do that". Dave agreed: "it was so nice getting to know you all though, I wish you all the best"- "Oh just leave Gavin if you're going, who needs ya, and I'll be sure to tell Kate what a snivelling coward her so called boyfriend turned out to be when she gets back"! Without another word, Gavin turned on his heel and headed for the door, before he could get there, Holly caught up with him in the hall: "Gavin wait". He spun around to face her as she came toward him, she sighed: "it's Jane isn't it"? "Jane's the reason you wanna get on with things". What?! How'd she even- "I've seen the way she is with you, it seems like she really cares about you". Gavin stared hard at the floor again, letting out a long breath: "I'm sorry"… Holly nodded in acceptance: "It's Ok, it's not like you and Kate were together that long anyway, you don't really owe her anything, or us for that matter, I just wanted to let you know there's no hard feelings, mum and dad are just upset because Kate can't be bothered to ring them". She vented, folding her arms: "And to be honest, I am too, a couple messages per month and she can't even be bothered to ring her own mother and tell her she loves her, but then she has the nerve to ask me to tell mum for her and to make stupid statuses about how much she's enjoying her new life"? Holly scoffed: "So… you understand"? Holly nodded: "I do, and Jane's been great, to all of us, if she makes you happy, then go for it, I'm sure in time my parents will get sick of Kate's crap too". Gavin smiled appreciatively at her: "Thanks, that means a lot". Holly smiled back: "it was nice getting to know you though". "Yeah, you too". Gavin opened his arms and Holly moved to hug him: "Take care yeah"? "Yeah, you too".
Having left Kate's feeling somewhat lighter, Gavin got his phone out to text Jane:
Message To: Jane❤️
MAY 29th 12:30PM
Hey babe, just left xx
How'd it go??? Xxx
I mean… not great, Holly sends her best though! 🙂👍
Aww bless her! Holly's lovely 😊 xxx
Yeah she is 🙂 And besides, I always thought you and I had better chemistry anyway 🙂
Haha OMG!! I thought I was the only one!! Be honest, was the only reason you liked her coz she had big boobs and long blonde hair??? LOL
LMAO!!! What?! No! I'm not THAT shallow! I thought she was sweet and we had fun together, but I always thought you and I had more in common 🙂
Haha flatterer 🙂
Haha oh you love it!! Anyway I'm sure Kate's parents will come around eventually.
I'm proud of you Gav 🤗 😘
Thanks babe xxx how's the article going???
Yeah good thanks, could do with the opinion of a sexy science teacher though 😉 😉
Lol 🙄 ok well, a definite benefit of human cloning is that there'd be more you I'd get to have fun with 😉 😉
Haha, baby I ain't sharing you with ANYONE! Not even another me! 🙂
Lol are you rejecting my scientific opinion???
Lol, so you want me to say: "Pros of human cloning include having two girlfriends without all the stresses and complications of actually having two girlfriends"??
OR you could say: "Human cloning would give humanity a chance to at last improve on perfection". 🙂
LOL very smooth, I'm impressed 👏 👏 👏 now how about a real suggestion???
Haha ok, ok how about: "Human cloning would not only be an extension of everything good we like about ourselves and each other but everything bad we hate about ourselves and each other too, for every blessing there's always a curse". Then maybe ask your readers if they think it'd be worth it??
Ahhhh, I like it! Very clever 🙂
Haha why thank you baby, just on my way to yours, see you in 15??
Can't wait!!! 😛 love you!!! Xxx
Love you too babe!!! Xxx

For three weeks, I was on the highest of highs! Gavin took me out nearly every evening! We went to the cinema, to dinner, bowling, he even took me dancing one night, and ice skating another night! He never took Eradikate dancing or ice skating! When we next made love, it was as wild and passionate as I imagined! He couldn't get enough of me! And I never wanted to let him go! Regretfully, I couldn't wear the dress he got me as much now that we were one on one and he was paying more attention, but that was a minor disappointment in comparison to my many, many joys! He was sweeter with me than he ever was with Eradikate, It was so obvious who he liked more, just like I knew it would be. We went back to that park we hung out at a while ago, and this time, when we were behind that tree, he kissed me: long and slow and deep. He introduced me to some of his new work mates as his girlfriend, my cheeks were so sore from smiling so much, I was so over the top happy I could've burst! One of them even came out for drinks with us. The Nuisance wasn't there for once, it was ridiculously refreshing not having him breathing down my neck all the time with his tired accusations! Gavin also showed me around ST John's one evening when he was staying back late marking, I had a blast distracting him. I was also spending more and more time at Gavin's house, which meant I didn't have to deal with all the smells at mine. Gavin came over a couple times in those three weeks, but truth be told, I preferred it at his. I loved being amongst his surroundings. He'd commented on how my place smelled like air freshener, I told him I just liked the smell, he scrunched his noes up and said I was weird, I just laughed, told him that's why he loved me and kissed him, he didn't disagree, not that that was the only reason he loved me of course, he also recognised the pillow case I'd taken that was covering one of my pillows, but he just assumed we had the same set. The Nuisance was talking to Gavin a bit more which was encouraging, he was still odd with me but he was making more of an effort, probably realised he hadn't actually seen me put a foot wrong a part from that one time I accidentally let someone see me in Sutton that day. But his existence in the world no longer concerned me, which was good because I wouldn't have to take someone else away from Gavin, but kinda sucked at the same time, the Eradikation had been so much fun! When I was sure I was in the clear, I put The Gavin Drawer back in it's rightful place, Eradikate's body looked awful: there was fungi all around her mouth, layers of skin were separating and she looked the most bloated I've ever seen her look. The smell was indescribable too, like rotting cherry flavoured meat, or someone who hadn't bathed a day in their life! The most surreal part was that I was the cause of it, I was the reason she was lying in my attic like that. I kept waiting for the guilt to hit me like a ton of bricks, the way it seems to in all those crime drama's but it didn't. The only time I ever felt anything remotely remorseful was when Gavin and Eradikate's family were suffering and well, Gavin was over her now, and I'd been doing what I could for her family, I even added Holly on Facebook and told her she could message me if she needed anything. I had no need for guilt. I spoke to Eradikate while I was down there, covering my noes at the same time, I told her all about how things were with Gavin, how much everyone was moving on, and how I was the happiest I'd ever been, and I thanked her. It should not have been as satisfying as it was. I knew I couldn't leave her there indefinitely, but it was working for now, you know what they say: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". I could figure out a permanent resting place for her another time. I considered telling Gavin who I really was like I'd planned, but things were going so well, I didn't wanna ruin it, sure, we were closer now, but he still might not liked that I kept that from him, or the things I needed to do to be near him again, he still might say I was a crazy stalker, so I made up my mind to enjoy what we had, he knew me for me, and liked me for me, so what if he didn't know my real last name, or where I really went to uni, maybe years from now, I'll tell him and it'll be nothing more than a funny story we could tell our grandchildren, but in the meantime, I was just enjoying the ride! I hadn't updated The Gavin Drawer since his birthday, i no longer needed to settle for scraps, I had the whole meal! Yup, I was truly on the highest of highs! But, as the saying goes: "The higher the climb, the harder the fall". "For every blessing, there's always a curse"….
Nelson had been feeling weird about Jane on and off for months, he couldn't put his finger on why, but something was definitely off about her. Especially since Kate had "disappeared", and even more so now that her and Gavin had gotten together, he'd tried to warn Gavin a little, but not to any significant degree, it's not like he had much to go off, but he couldn't sit on things anymore, he needed to talk to him properly about his fears: "Hey Gav, can we talk"? He asked, walking into the living room before work that morning: "Sure, what's up"? Gavin answered, turning off the TV: "I think we should talk about Jane". Gavin tipped his head back with a groan: "Not this again, what's your deal with her anyway"?! "My deal is that I'm worried about you, do you not think it's a little weird how quickly things have progressed"? "I don't think it's quick". Gavin replied with a shrug: "Don't you think it's weird how quickly Kate's moved on"? Nelson sighed: "You can tell me if you're on the rebound you know, coz if that's all this is then"- "Of course it isn't"! "So you really don't think you guys have been moving fast"? "No I don't, and why does it even matter"? "I love Jane". "Gavin, you told Kate "love" was too soon after two months, it's been three weeks". "We've had longer together, you know, getting to know one another"… "And there's not the tiniest part of you that wonders if that was her plan"? Gavin's face turned into a look of shock: "She claims she just has one of those faces". Nelson recalled, gesturing air quotes: "Yet both of us vividly recognise her, she got all weird when you introed her to Kate and I, there was how she was the morning after the club, did she tell you that she kissed me that night too"? "She did actually". Gavin shot back, arms crossed: "Really"? Nelson asked, an eye brow raised: "Yes, really". "See, i caught her staring at you and Kate dancing, I asked her if she fancied you and she said you weren't her type, I told her to prove it and she kissed me". "So, what's your point"? "You think she's strange based on what"? "A coincidence and a lie she probably told to get you off her back"? "If I'm right about her you could be in serious danger, I just don't wanna see you get hurt that's all". "Well cheers Nels but, I can look after myself". He replied getting up: "And you know what"? "If you don't like it, if you think she's so dangerous, you can always move out". "What"? "You'd really chuck me out"? "Your best mate"? "I'm just saying, you're not the only one who can afford rent for this place, I'm sure Jane would love it if we lived together, we could turn your room into a spare". Nelson shook his head: "You're either not as smart as you like to make out or you're being seriously manipulated here". "I'm just sick of your dumb comments that's all, all the while you've been pretending to be Jane's friend". "I tried Gav, I really did but there's something not right about that woman"- Well you're gonna be seeing a whole lot more of her so like I said, if you don't like it, you know what you can do". Gavin replied before leaving the room.
Still annoyed by the confrontation that morning, Nelson sat in a café, determined now more than ever to find something against Jane, it felt strange to him to be sat in a cafe other than the one where Gavin worked, but there was no way he'd still have a home in half an hour if Gavin knew what he was up to. He'd been trying to rack his brain for something, anything, any indication that Jane had been up to something, when it hit him: The only way we'd both remember her so clearly is if…. He scrambled around his bag for his phone and hurried to unlock it, he pulled up his Facebook and typed in: University Of London into the search engine. A long shot? Possibly. A lead? Almost certainly! He scrolled through a mountain of graduation photos, club photos, promotional photos and some candids until he spotted a photo of a group of girls holding up a drama club banner, he had to zoom in a fair bit but right in the corner he could see the side of someone's face, it wasn't a good shot at all, it was blurry and only showed half her face but the parts he could see looked exactly like Jane! He screenshoted the picture and continued scrolling to see what else he could find. Nelson scrolled all the way back to 2016 and found nothing. No graduation pictures, no club pictures, no pictures with friends, either Nelson had gotten that part of the situation at least wrong, Jane wasn't very active at uni or she was just very thorough in covering her tracks. With a sigh, Nelson tapped on his message icon, and scrolled down to the university group chat he hadn't opened in ages, and by the looks of things, no one else had either:
LOL WITH UOL!!! 2016-2019 CLASS 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
Nels Cols:
Hi everyone! 🙂 sorry it's been so long, I hope everyone's doing well, I know this is gonna sound weird… but do any of you remember a Jane Hughs??? Pretty sure she graduated with us but I'm not 100. I look forward to hearing from you all again 🙂 take care!!! ✌️

Now all he had to do was wait… half an hour later he finally got some feedback:

LOL WITH UOL!!! 2016-2019 CLASS 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
Sarah Silks:
OMG!!! I haven't looked at this in forevvvvzzzz!!! Lol how's it going Nels?? Sorry bud no I don't remember a Jane Hughs
Nels Cols:
LOL yeah I know me neither! I'm good thanks how are you??
Sarah Silks:
Aw yeah same, life goes quick!!!
Noah Tanned:
Hey bro!!! Sarah! Omg been a while! 👊 sorry I don't remember a Jane Hughs either
Nels Cols:
Ah that's ok, bit of a long shot anyway…
Cammy-Annie-Lane-Craige:
Omg!!! There was a Jane Hughs a while ago! Asked me and Emma Hann (remember her?? Still my BFF BTW hehehe👯‍♀️👯‍♀️👯‍♀️) anyway she asked us for Gavin's new address, she said they were old friends or something??? I only remembered her coz she was in mine, Em's and Gavin's physics class, I thought it was a bit strange coz her last name was different…. Erm…
Jessie Sims:
OMG yeah! Wasn't her last name, like, Harris or something???
Cammy-Annie-Lane-Craige:
YESSSS!!! Jess you star!! Lol I've missed ya!!! 😘
Jessie Sims:
Lol I've missed ya too Cams!!! 😘😘😘
Nels Cols.
Oh! Thank you soooo much guys you've been really helpful!
Cammy-Annie-Lane-Craige:
Anytime 🙂
Noah Tanned:
Lol you really gave some random Gavin's adds???
Cammy-Annie-Lane-Craige:
She said they were old mates! She didn't seem that bad in physics!
Jessie Sims:
Lol she barely even spoke in physics! Lol but I'd prob still have done it anyway, Gavin was such a know it all!
Cammy-Annie-Lane-Craige:
Lol your rivalry was always destined to get outta hand!!
Jessie Sims:
LOL
Cammy-Annie-Lane-Craige:
Is Gavin ok Nels??
Nels Cols:
Yeah, he will be dw 🙂 thanks for the help guys!!! Much appreciated! 🙂
Cammy-Annie-Lane-Craige:
Your welcome 🙂
Jessie Sims:
Let's not leave it so long to talk next time yeah guys??
Nels Cols:
👍 yeah deffo!! See you soon guys!!
Jessie Sims:
Bye!!! 👋
Cammy-Annie-Lane-Craige:
See ya later guys!!! 👋
Noah Tanned:
Glad you found what you wanted mate!! 👊 see ya!!
Sarah Silks:
👋 buy guys
With that, Nelson screenshotted the conversation and headed back home to show Gavin. When he got back, Gavin was on his way out:
"Hey". "Hi". Gavin answered awkwardly: "Off to see Jane"? "Might be". "Can we talk first please"? Gavin shook his head: "I don't wanna get into another argument"- "No arguments I promise". After some moments of hesitation, Gavin nodded: "Ok, but if this turns into another argument"- "it won't, it's just a discussion, I swear". Nelson promised, hands in a defensive stance. He led him into the living room and Gavin went to sit down in one of the armchairs: "Alright, let's hear it". "Ok, first things first, I don't wanna be right about any of this but… Ok, so I was in Club Coffee just now, and I was thinking about how we both recognised Jane, so I searched UOL in the Facebook search engine and…. Look what I found". He located his phone and found the screenshot he'd taken of the woman who looked like Jane: "Wait why UOL"? "It's the only place we could both know her from". Nelson went over to where Gavin was sat and showed him the photo: "You're gonna have to do a lot better than that Nels, it just looks like any generic picture, you can't even see her face properly". "I had a feeling you'd say that, which is why I messeged one of the UOL group chats to see if anyone remembered a Jane Hughs. He showed him the screenshots of the conversation, watching as Gavin's face went from realisation, to shock to vague horror: "So… what"? "She lied"? Nelson nodded: "Looks like it, it also explains why she didn't tell you we all lived so close". "Do you think she could be"… "A stalker"? "Yeah, I do, she could've messeged you and told you she went to UOL and asked if you wanted to hang out or something, but she sought out two of your friends to ask for our address so she could be near you, don't tell me that's not stalker behaviour". Gavin shook his head in disbelief: "There has to be another explanation". "Like what"? "She clearly didn't want us to know who she actually was, I couldn't find any pictures of her apart from that side of the face one". Gavin's face turned from horror to sadness and hurt: "Mate I'm sorry, I really didn't wanna be right, I just couldn't stand seeing you be sucked in any longer". Gavin sat upright: "So, what was your theory about Kate"? Nelson shook his head: "I'm not sure, but I think maybe she did something and has been pretending to post Facebook statuses as Kate, remember when that guy from Sutton said he recognised her"? There was a pause: "We need proof". "Ok, yeah, I bet we can get some, you were just on the way to her's right"? Gavin stood up swiftly: "Let's go". Gavin took off out of the room and Nelson hurried to keep up: "Remember Gav, we have to act normal or she'll get suss".
Prompt as always, Gavin knocked on the door, a tad more purposefully than usual. Ohhh, eager to see me are you baby? I opened the door and was surprised to see The Nuisance standing with him: "Oh, er, hi". "You don't mind if he hangs with us do you"? "He's had a bit of a crappy day". So?! Why is that our problem?! This is our time! Ugh! Why is he always ruining everything?! "Sure, the more the merrier". I lied, smiling like a Cheshire Cat as they stepped inside: "Thanks Jane, er, mind if I use your bathroom"? "Nope, knock yourself out". Preferably literally: "Cheers".
Nelson went into the bathroom for a few minutes, then when he was sure Gavin had Jane distracted, he snuck into her room, he reckoned that'd be the best place to look for clues. The first thing his eyes landed on was the dark red pillowcase, Ok, that might genuinely be a coincidence. Still, he took a picture just in case. He then began looking through the dresser and drawers, he riffled through each of them until he got to the bottom one, he pulled it open and was gobsmacked at what he found, he placed the drawer on the bed and fired a quick text to Gavin:
Message To Gav
JUN 19th 8:20PM
Hey, you need to see this! Make an excuse and get up here.

Two minutes later, Gavin was walking into the room and closing the door behind him: "Hey whad'ya find"? "Come here". Nelson beckoned. Gavin rounded the bed and came face to face with the drawer: "Oh my gosh…. Why does that thing look so familiar"? "What"? "You recognise it"? Gavin nodded: "I think she's shown it to me before". Nelson picked up the pillow that the pillowcase was covering and showed it to him: "is this yours too"? "I had my suspicions but now"… "I mean if she has my shirt, and my cologne… I think I'm gonna be sick". "I think you already were". Alarmed, Nelson slowly picked up a small container with what looked like a very small chunk of vomit inside: "Now are you convinced"? Gavin picked up the strand of hair Jane cut for him, a shiver running down his spine: "What on Earth is happening"?
Gavin was taking his time, he was being so weird that night, almost distracted, I had no idea why, until that is, I heard Gavin and The Nuisance coming back downstairs, to my sheer dread they were carrying a drawer, my heartbeat sped up, my hands got all clammy and I started to feel lightheaded. No, no, no, no… please… "What on Earth is this". Gavin asked, slamming The Gavin Drawer down on the table, I gulped: "What were you doing going through my stuff"? "Looks like I could ask you the same thing". "And before you spin another web, I spoke to some people from UOL". "You what"?! UGH! HOW DARE HE?! Gosh! Why didn't I just kill him?! "Yeah, apparently you asked a couple people for his address before you moved here, now why would you do that if you didn't know him before your accidental meeting in the café that day"? The Nuisance asked, air quotes and all, like some rip off detective on the cusp of a big discovery: "Well"? "I don't know what you're talking about". I shrugged: "Stop lying to me"! Gavin suddenly shouted: "I trusted you Jane, and all you seen to be doing is lying"! "What is all this"? "Why would two people i haven't spoken to in ages need to lie"?! "Why would I need to lie"? "I love you". "Then explain, go on, if you love me so much, tell me what this is all about, and tell me why I recognise this drawer". Uh oh… I felt like I was sinking deeper and deeper into a black hole, this was so much worse than when Eradikate was confronting me that time, at least there was no evidence she could pin against me: "I'm sorry"… I whispered, beginning to shake a little: "I did go to uni with you guys, you're right".: "I knew it". The Nuisance mumbled: "Oh yeah, well done Sherlock"! I exclaimed, before turning back to Gavin: "I was in your physics class, and I fell for you". Gavin looked confused, like he did when I first explained everything after the club that night: "How"? "I barely even remember you". Ow…. "You were so smart, and funny, and charming, and you were sweet, you gave me this pencil, see"? With shaky fingers, I picked up the small yellow pencil at the bottom of the drawer, Gavin and The Nuisance just watched, why does he look so terrified? "I couldn't find my pencil case, and you gave me this, remember"? "You kept that all this time"? "Don't you think that's a bit creepy"? "Just shut up Nelson"! I snapped, walking closer as he moved further and further away from me: "You know, Gavin and I were doing perfectly fine before you and Kate showed up, you had to ruin everything didn't you"?! I yelled, slapping him, my rage beginning to boil over: "Where's Kate Jane"? Gavin asked, silencing me: "wh-what"? "What did you do to Kate"? "Nothing"! "Nothing, I wouldn't"! "But you would stalk me yeah"? "Gavin I just wanted to be near you again". I defended, going over to him, he jerked away from me and my heart broke: "Gavin"… "What else did you do"? "Was Kate right"? "Did you get us all drunk so you could try and assault me"? "No"! "But something did happen yeah"? "I just wanted to find out how you felt"- "You couldn't just ask like a normal person"? I was so beyond done with The stupid Nuisance by this point I punched him so hard in the mouth that it actually knocked him off his feet: "Stop talking"! "This is between me and Gavin"! "Get involved again, and I won't be so nice next time"! Shaking and surprised, The Nuisance held his throbbing, bloody lip: "Jane"… Gavin exhaled, in disbelief, looking between us wide eyed: "I'm sorry, I'm trying to give you your explanation but he keeps interrupting, you liked it, when I told you everything after the club, when I showed you the drawer and the photos you liked it". "Photos"? "You kissed me, it was so amazing and I wanted it so much"… "I knew it"! "I knew something happened between us"! "I should've listened to my instincts, trusted my gut feeling I just didn't wanna believe you could be so"… he let out a long breath in that disapproving way parents do, I was all too familiar with that sigh: "Who even are you"? My heart ached: "Gavin, I'm so sorry"- I tried, reaching for him, he backed away again, faster this time: "I just didn't want you to get freaked out"! "How's that working out for you"? "Now, tell me what you did to Kate". I kept my mouth shut, determined to hang on to him for as long as possible, then he came up to me and grabbed my arms, shaking me, I've never seen him so angry: "Tell me what you did"! I began to cry, I could feel Gavin slipping right through my fingers yet again: "Please don't hate me"…. He merely glared daggers at me: "Shes in the attic". He let go of me and sprinted toward the direction of the attic, The Nuisance staggering up after him. It didn't really work did it? He's still hung up on her, I was nothing more than a back up till he found out what happened to Eradikate… Dejected, I followed them to the attic door, The Nuisance kicked the door open and, coughing, we rushed down to where Eradikate lay: "Oh… my gosh… Kate"… Gavin crawled over to where she was and cradled what was left of her in his arms: "Kate….. baby…. I can't believe"… then he looked up at me, hurt, confused, betrayed and something that looked terrifyingly like disgust: "How could you do this to me"? "I thought… I thought we were friends… you said… you told me you were in love with me"! "I am"! "I am in love with you Gavin"! "I didn't know what else to do". He disentangled himself from Eradikate and stood up: "So you kill my girlfriend, and send me messages pretending to be her"- "I was trying to cheer you up, make things up to you"! "I thought if you thought she was alright it would put your mind at ease and you wouldn't be so sad"! He just stared at me, completely dumbfounded: "You lie, you assault me, you stalk me, you take things from my house and somehow you think that's love"?! "I didn't know what else to do, I was too shy to talk to you when I first saw you at uni, that's why I wanted to get my confidence up, and I couldn't message you after uni or you'd think I was crazy". "You are crazy"! "Please don't say that, I only did all this so we could be together properly, I wanted to be close to you, isn't that flattering"?! "Yeah Jane, I'm so flattered, flattered that you hunted me down after two years having only ever seen me in passing"- "It was more than in passing"! I interjected, desperate to clarify things for him: "We talked"! "It may have only been for a second but it was special". Gavin folded his arms: "I'm flattered that you've clung on to this weird dream you've got based off a 5 second conversation we had where I gave you a pencil". "It was more than that, we"- "I'm flattered that's what you think, that you watched me go through hell losing Kate, that you let me cry in your arms like an idiot when all the time it was you"! I swallowed, looking down at the floor as my eyes began welling up again at the thought: "You have no idea how much I hate myself for that". "Her poor family, her kid sister, I washed my hands of the lot of them because of you". I braved a hopeful peak back up at him: "I've still got Holly on Facebook, I've been doing everything I could to make this up to them too". "You think that makes it better"?! "How can you even look them in the eye"?! "It's called psychopathy Gavin". I whirled around to find The Nuisance lifting his phone to his ear, I snatched it from his hand and threw it against the wall. The Nuisance and Gavin glanced at each other, then bolted up the stairs, i chased after them, hot on their heels, they were right at the front door by the time I got to them, but I kicked them both in the place of most sensitivity, which left them doubled over in pain while I ran into the kitchen to get a knife: "No one's going anywhere until you've heard me out"! I warned, returning to them, knife pointed at Gavin: "I don't know why you're being like this, when I told you all this before you didn't mind"! "I was drunk, I didn't know what was going on, I didn't even remember until I saw that disgusting thing"! "How can you say that"? "How can you call it disgusting"? "Everything we've ever done together is in that drawer"! "The first time you spoke to me at uni, the chips we shared at the park, the first time I bought you coffee, the time you made me one, the first time you invited me over, the first time we kissed, the first time we made love, the lock of hair I cut for you, everything, everything is in that drawer"!
I saw him look over at The Nuisance which only fuelled my anger: "Don't look at him, why are you looking at him"? "He's done nothing but get in the way of us since day one"! "You wanna know something funny"? "I didn't even remember him until you told me he was the one who stopped you coming to talk to me at that party". Recollection flashed across Gavin's face: "So… physics and that party… that's how I remembered you…you looked upset"… when I saw you at that party you looked upset"… "Yeah, I cried that whole evening, and he stopped you coming over to help me". I turned to The Nuisance: "What, your need to play some dumb drinking game more important than your friend's desire to be a good person"? "I"- "Shut up"! I seethed, gripping the knife tighter and touching The Nuisance's throat with it ever so slightly: "You've said more than enough for one lifetime". I turned my attention back to Gavin: "But I never blamed you, you were always so sweet, and you looked so sorry about it too, and then we hit it off at the café and every other time since, it was all him, him and your stupid girlfriend, do you know how crushed I was when you finally decided to tell me about her"? "I'm sorry Jane, about everything, but you didn't have to kill her, you didn't have to do any of this, if you'd have just come and said hi things might've been different". "I was scared, I was scared you wouldn't like me". "Well you were wrong, I fell for you in the end didn't I"? I could feel tears gather in my eyes again: "Only because I got my confidence up, only because you didn't have Kate". He shook his head: "That's not true, like I said, we have way more in common than Kate and I ever did". "You're just saying that coz you think I'm about to kill your interfering friend". "That's not true, you know how much I love you, if you're doing this because you think you have to be someone you're not, then you don't, I love you for who you are". "You called me crazy a moment ago". "I'm sorry, I was angry because of what you did to Kate, but"… He swallowed: "Maybe now that I know everything, maybe we can get passed it". I hesitated, not believing my ears: "Are you lying to me"? He shook his head again: "Of course I'm not, but you're gonna have to put the knife down first ok"? "I'd never hurt you"… I whispered, knife still fixed on The Nuisance's throat: "That's very hard to believe while you're still holding that thing". He stood up slowly and held out his hand: "Come on baby, let's put this behind us ok"? I stared at his warm, soft hand like I had so many times before, I trusted it so much, so much more than I trusted anything, I trusted him so much more than anyone. But something changed, I didn't know what, but something told me he didn't mean it, that as soon as that knife was in his hands he and his stupid, spoil sport friend would be out the door and I'd never see him again: "Do you mean it"? I asked, almost pleading with him to be sincere, he nodded: "Of course". "And you won't tell anyone about any of this"? "About Kate"? "Not if it means losing you I won't". "What about him"? "Sworn to secrecy, right Nels"? Gavin looked The Nuisance's way and he nodded rapidly. Well even if I can still trust Gavin, I can't possibly trust him. "And you'll stay with me"? I asked, tears running slowly down my face, he nodded again: "I'll always stay with you, I'll always love you". He whispered back. His words usually made my heart melt at his feet, but they weren't enough, not this time, I needed to feel it, the way I did when he first kissed me, the way I did when we first made love, I needed to know it was still the same, coz it sure didn't feel like it: "Prove it". I let the moment hang in the air so he'd take the hint, he stepped closer to me and kissed me softly, and like I suspected, totally fake! It felt like he was doing his best not to cringe or throw up! He was repulsed by me! "YOU LIAR"! I screamed at him, before plunging the knife straight into his stomach in a fit of blind rage! I wasn't even thinking about it, it was like I'd lost all sense of control in that one single instant. Until, at last, I dropped the knife and Gavin, the love of my life, was laying on the floor in front of me: "Gavin"? I gasped, panic stricken, scared, horrified, distraught, every negative emotion in existence: "Gavin"? "What have you done"? The Nuisance asked as Gavin cried out in pain: "Gavin"! "Gavin I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry baby I didn't mean to hurt you"! I sobbed, falling to the floor and, well, attempting to hold him, he was fighting me with what little strength he had: "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to, I was just angry, why did you have to lie"? "Why did you say you still loved me when you didn't mean it"?! "You were just trying to escape weren't you"?! "You were trying to run away from me"! "Why did you have to do that baby"?! I cried. Gavin was struggling for breath and I was trying desperately to put my arms around him without him blocking or flinching every time I tried to touch him: "Jane, listen to me, have you got a First Aid kit"?! I was barely listening to him: "Jane"! My head snapped up to meet his insistent eyes: "First Aid, we need to stop the bleeding until the ambulance gets here"!
Ambulance? Bleeding? What have I done? "I didn't mean to hurt him, you have to believe me, I love him so much, I can't lose him, I can't lose him please"- "Jane, no time, First Aid Kit, now"! I ran upstairs, grabbed the First Aid box from off the shelf and rushed back down. The Nuisance tried to take it from me but I wouldn't let him, despite Gavin's protests, i lifted his shirt and began trying to clean the wounds, stroking Gavin's hair to try to comfort him: "l'm sorry baby, please be ok, please forgive me, I need you". I whispered. He still looked so scared of me, I couldn't stand it. His eyes were starting to roll back and The Nuisance was becoming more and more impatient with me as I fumbled around with the first aid stuff, I only ever had to use the thing once and I was seriously rusty, not to mention petrified of losing the only man I've ever loved: "Gavin"! "Gavin, stay with me ok"? "Please". He came back around and began to mumble a little: "Jane… I…" "Shhh, it's ok, I'm so sorry I hurt you baby, I never, ever meant to hurt you". I kissed his forehead, and felt him recoil underneath me: "I love you". I whispered, my eyes so watery I could hardly see what I was doing. I heard The Nuisance huff in frustration: "You are as useless as you are insane, move"! He demanded, pushing me out of the way so he could tend to Gavin himself: "It's alright mate, I'm here now". He shot me a quick glance: "Call an ambulance"! "I'm so sorry baby"… I repeated: "Jane"! "Ambulance"! The Nuisance shouted, snapping me out of it, I fumbled around in my pocket for my phone and dialled 999: "Hello"? "Yeah, my- my boyfriend"- I was crying so much I could barely get the words out: "My boyfriend's been stabbed… in the stomach, yeah our friend's trying to stop the bleeding…" I looked back over in the direction of the chaos: "Erm, I don't know… he keeps coming in and out of consciousness and I don't know what to do". I was told to pass the phone to The Nuisance so they could instruct him on how to stabilise things until the ambulance got here, I nodded: "Ok". I handed The Nuisance the phone, slowly sat down on the floor, and watched. What am I gonna do if I lose him? I lamented. I can't lose him… I just can't… I need him… When I was wondering who my next victim would be… I never imagined it would be the love of my life. Remember when I said I'd rather die than hurt him? Yeah, I've never wished I was dead more.
The next thing I knew, I was waking up slowly in a room with blue walls, I don't remember how I got there, or how long I'd been there, all I knew was that my head felt excessively foggy, for some reason, I was in my pyjama's and I could see Toady: "Hey, you're awake"! He smiled, as I blinked hard, trying to get my eyes to adjust to my surroundings: "I've missed you so much sis". He said, rubbing my head. So this isn't some odd dream then? "Gavin"…? I mumbled, gradually recalling recent events: "Gavin… Gavin, where is he"? "He's in hospital J J". "Is he ok"? "Can I go see him"? Toady shook his head: "Not right now J J, let's just focus on you for now Ok"? "I need to see him, I need to know he's ok, please, please, I need to see him". I begged, beginning to get worked up. Toady moved closer to me, rubbing my head in what I guessed was supposed to be a soothing way: "Hey, shhh it's alright, I'm sure the doctors are doing everything they can for him, I'm more concerned about you right now sis". "Where am I"? "How did you find me"? I finally asked, still confused by the whole situation, he looked hesitant to tell me: "You're in hospital too JJ, a bit like where you were back in Kensington. Apparently you were a bit hysterical when the police were trying to ask you questions earlier, they thought someone should come and observe your state of mind before they took things further". Great! Just because I wanted to stay with Gavin instead of answering their stupid questions I'm back to square one?! Seriously?! "Your friend gave them a statement too about… your obsession". "It's not an obsession". And he is not my friend! Toady just nodded: "Ok, why don't you tell me what happened and we'll take it from there Eh"? I stayed silent for a moment: "You still haven't told me how you found me". He smiled: "I'm still your next of kin remember"? Ugh! I knew I was forgetting something! "Come on JJ talk to me, tell me what happened and we can try and sort it out together like we used to". "You probably already have a pretty good idea of what happened". "I wanna hear your side". Pity he wasn't like this when it came to Big, Fat Egg Donor.
"I just wanted him to love me". I finally said: "But JJ we've talked about this, you can't force people into falling for you". Hot tears sprung up in my eyes once more: "But I wasn't"! I insisted, my voice the loudest it'd been the whole conversation: "I wasn't forcing it, I was so careful about that"! "We got to know each other, we dated for three weeks, I wasn't impulsive, he- he told me he loved me"! I cried: "Did he actually say that, or is it just what you would have liked for him to say"? Excuse me?! "He said it"! I yelled, jumping up: "He told me"! "He told me he loved me"! "Why don't you ever believe me"?! I sobbed: "Ok, ok, I'm sorry, Shhh, I'm sorry". He repeated, getting on the bed and wrapping me in a tight hug: "it's ok, shhh, I'm sorry". He kissed the top of my head, then lay down and laid my head on his chest. He let me cry and surprisingly enough didn't say anything for several minutes, but he still wanted me to open up like always: "So, all your plans and stuff worked for a while yeah"? I nodded slowly: "But you had to do drastic things to keep him didn't you"? I nodded again: "Ok, are they gonna find anything incriminating back at yours"? "His ex girlfriend's in my attic". I told him quietly: "I'm gonna go to prison aren't I"? "Nah, big bros gonna fix it, just like he fixes everything". He kissed the top of my head once again and I found myself smiling, I'd forgotten how safe I felt with him: "And hey if nothing else, we can always plead insanity". He chuckled, then stopped himself when he realised I wasn't joining in: "Sorry, stupid joke". "Do you think I'm insane"? I stressed: "Course I don't, it was just a really bad joke that's all". "Gavin does". I recounted: "He said I was crazy". "That was really insensitive, of both of us, I'm sorry". He gave me another kiss on the top of my head and held me closer to him: "Why does no one love me Ry"? "J"… he breathed out sounding devastated by my words. He lifted my face so I was looking him in the eye: "I love you, and you don't have to try with me do you"? "Coz I love you automatically". "But you're my brother, it's in the handbook". He raised an eyebrow: "Given how many times you've pushed me away I probably should've given up on you by now". "Sorry". I confessed, feeling a shamed all of a sudden, Ryan smiled fondly at me: "It's Ok, here, look, I brought old faithful". Ryan dug out the stress ball he'd bought me from his pocket. Tentatively, he placed it into my hands and I squeezed it tight, so tight my knuckles turned white as a sheet, I squeezed the ball the way I squeezed Eradikate's neck like it was the softest Mochi squishy toy around. We stayed like that for a long moment, it was like being curled up in a cocoon where nothing could get to me: "Can we talk about mum"? Ryan asked out of the blue. Ughhhh! Why are you ruining it?! We were just starting to get along again! I shook my head fast: "Come on J, please"? "She's dying to see you". "You didn't bring her did you"? His silence certainly wasn't golden, angered, I pulled away from him: "This is why I stopped talking to you"! "Why are you always getting her involved"?! "Jane, it's been almost a whole year, you can give her 5 minutes can't you"? I folded my arms: "I know she doesn't always get it right, but she cares about you, all she ever wanted to do was look after you". I scoffed: "I don't need looking after". Toady looked me up and down: "Evidently you do, but that's ok, it's ok to lean on us, we're your family, please Jane, a couple minutes, for me"? He smiled hopefully at me: "One minute". "Great"! "You won't regret this I promise, I'll go get her"! He kissed my cheek, then went to get Big, Fat Egg Donor. Normally, I wouldn't even give her the time of day, but it would get Toady to stop nagging me about it, and I could finally tell her exactly what I thought of her and tell her I never wanted to see her again.
Seconds later, i heard her walk in, her heels clicking against the floor: "Jane…. Oh baby girl, I've missed you". She flopped down on the bed next to me and ran her fingers through my hair. I wished I had a pair of scissors so I could chop those sausages right off her hand! "Ry's gone to get some coffee, figured we could use some time to ourselves". Oh I bet he did: "Oh sweetheart… this is why Ryan and I didn't want you to go seeking him out like that, this is why we wanted you to stay close, because we were afraid something like this would happen, honey remember what happened with Michelle"? That was different! She sighed: "I'm sorry, I didn't mean for that to sound like an I told you so". Yes you did: "I've been looking all over for you angel, I couldn't find your address, you'd changed your number… I found your Facebook at one point, sent you a couple dozen messages". "Yeah, I got them". I answered, still only giving her my back. She sighed again: "Aren't you even gonna look at me"? "Can't we just start over"? "Ry said he managed to get you to have a whole conversation with him". I was seriously beginning to regret that: "I see he brought the stress ball for you, I'm glad it's still helping you". "Jane Olivia Harris stop being so damn difficult"! "For goodness sake shut up you worthless waste of air"! I finally shouted, sitting up and looking her full in the face.
"There, are you happy now"? "You got me to talk, well done, what do you want"? A round of applause"?! Stress ball still in hand, I gave her my best, most disapproving golf clap: "Get it out your system Jane". She replied, sitting back and examining a chipped nail. Ugh! I hate her so much! Why did that no mark have to bring her here?! "You know, I only agreed to see you to tell you how much I despise you and to stay out of my life". She didn't take her eyes off her nails for even a fraction of a second: "Mmhmm, anything else"? I shook my head: "You're loving this aren't you"? "Me all vulnerable and under your thumb"? Her head turned sharply to me: "You think I like seeing you like this"? "You're my little girl Jane of course I don't like seeing you hurt and unhappy, I was never trying to control you I was trying to keep you safe, to protect you, and I was right to, look at the mess you make of things when I leave you to your own devices, I wouldn't have even known where to find you if Ryan hadn't told me, I only even let you go to that uni in the first place because he convinced me it'd be good for you"! I scowled at her: "I hate you, I wouldn't even spit on you if you were on fire, that's how much I think of you and your so called protection". She sighed, got out her phone from her purse, walked over to the chair beside the bed, and began scrolling! "Let me know when you're done ok"? "I'll be here". I got up, slammed the stress ball down on the side table so hard it rolled onto the floor, and stood a few feat away from her: "You know, I was gonna ring Ryan when I found out about Eradikate"- I was cut off by the sound of Big, Fat Egg Donor's amused laughter, she still wasn't looking at me though: "Still doing the nickname thing huh"? "Eradikate"? She nodded: "Impressive, continue". Errrrrr!!!! "I was gonna call him and ask him to take me back home to his, but then I thought no, because it would mean having to deal with you, you manipulative, narcissistic"- "if I was narcissistic Jane I wouldn't be here you know that". I walked up to her: "I don't want you here, when are you gonna get that into your thick head"?! I asked, jabbing a finger into the side of her forehead, she just kept scrolling, unfazed: "Mmmhmm, what else"? "I wish you weren't my mother". She laughed again: "Ah, an old classic". "I wish you were dead"! Oh no… no I shouldn't have said that. I started thinking about Gavin again, about everything that happened, about how I'd hurt him, and just like that, I was spiralling again: "I wish I was dead"… Big, Fat Egg Donor at last put her phone down on the side table, stood up, and started to walk toward me: "Don't say that honey"- I stepped back hurriedly: "No, no if I was dead Gavin would be ok, I just want him to be ok"! I cried: "you can't think like that sweetheart"- Big, fat Egg Donor took a couple more steps toward me and swiftly, i moved away from her once more: "No, no, what if I've- what if he's-"…. I couldn't get the words out, the thought of it made my insides feel as though they were shrivelling up: "What if I lose him"?! "I can't lose him mum, I can't lose him I need him"! I howled. Big, fat egg Donor was now trying to wrestle me into a hug, but I fought her off: "No"! "No, I don't want you, I don't want you I just want Gavin, I just want Gavin"! I fell to the floor and cried the way Gavin had when he couldn't find Eradikate, Worse! I cried so hard I could hardly breathe. I saw Big, Fat Egg Donor look taken aback, then Without missing a beat she scooped me up in her arms and cradled me, it was like being five years old again, I shook violently in her hold and she rubbed my back in circles: "it's ok, it's ok, I'm here… mummy's here, mummy's got you, it's ok, shhh, come on angel breathe, breathe for me come on". I took a few deep breaths as she spoke: "That's it, that's it, good girl". I let her kiss the side of my face as she continued to comfort me. Before I knew it we were back on the bed, her laying where Ryan had previously been, me in her arms like she'd always wanted. Guess she finally got her wish huh?
"Feel better now that you've had a good cry"? She asked. I shook my head. I'm never gonna feel better until I know Gavin's alive and well: "I didn't mean to hurt him mum". "I know". "I love him so much, I just wanted him to love me back, I had it all planned out, and it worked, we got to know each other, we grew closer, and then we were together, it was the best three weeks of my life, and he told me he loved me just like I always wanted". "Tell me what went wrong". She asked, stroking my hair. Ugh, why am I letting this happen? "First he had a girlfriend". I heard mum chuckle slightly: "Was that Eradikate"? I found myself smiling too despite everything, I nodded: "She kept getting in the way, so I had to get rid of her". "Tell me what you did sweetheart, it's Ok, I won't be alarmed". Or ashamed? Or disappointed? Wait why do I care? I'm supposed to hate you, what is going on?! "I strangled her". I confessed, I could tell she was suppressing a shudder at the thought of what her "little girl" had just admitted to: "Ok baby girl, where did you hide her"? "In the attic". "Ok, then what happened"? She's being weirdly calm: "I don't know why, but his friend got suspicious of me, and then they found The Gavin Drawer". "That thing you put his pencil in"? I pulled away from her: "Stop calling it that"! I shouted, she gently tugged on my arm to pull me back to her: "Ok, ok I'm sorry baby girl come here, that's it". I allowed her to guide me back into her arms: "I'm sorry sweetheart, carry on, you added to it yeah"? I nodded: "He said it was disgusting, it's not disgusting is it mum"? I asked, remembering that strange feeling I had in my gut when Gavin first started asking questions about me: "No it's not disgusting, it's just, how you express yourself that's all". Who are you and what have you done with my cow of a mother? Unless this is a new form of manipulation, which TBH Is possible: "Then what happened"? "He asked me where Kate was, so I showed him and then he tried to run away from me". I answered, my eyes welling up for the millionth time: "I only pulled the knife on him to stop him leaving, it wasn't supposed to hurt him". "So what happened"? "We argued, then I guess he was trying to talk me down coz he kept saying how much he still loved me and that we could get through it". I shook my head: "But he was lying to me mum, he just wanted me to give him the knife so he could escape, I saw red, I was so angry that he'd do that, I just lost it, next thing I knew, the knife was in his stomach". Fresh tears spilled down my face as I saw the knife sink straight into the middle of him and heard that awful thud his body made when it hit the floor. Mum wiped at my eyes: "I didn't mean to hurt him mum, I was just so angry and hurt, I didn't mean to". "Hey, shhh, I know, I know you didn't baby girl". She hugged me tighter: "Thank you for telling me, my brave, beautiful little girl". She kissed the top of my head, before I looked up at her: "I'm gonna have to tell the police everything aren't I"? To my unending surprise she shook her head: "No sweetheart, you don't have to tell anyone anything you don't want to ok"? "Just concentrate on getting better, Ryan and I will sort it all out". "How"? "You don't have to worry about any of that, let us look after you properly this time yeah"? Wow she really does have me right where she wants me doesn't she? I let out a long breath and shook my head: "I hate this". "I know honey, but if you wanna get better you have to start listening to us ok"? "And to the doctors, and we're gonna get you back into therapy, and everything's gonna be ok". She gently ushered my head back onto her chest: "I just wanna feel in control, I just wanna be normal". "Sweetheart you are normal". She replied, placing another kiss to my head: "You just need a little extra TLC that's all, and who doesn't need that every now and again"? "You just have to remember that everything your brother and I do is because we love you, even if you can't see that sometimes". Yeah, manipulative as ever, but I was way too exhausted to keep fighting, and besides, she said she'd keep me out of jail so:…. "Mum"? "Yes baby girl"? "I wanna go see how Gavin's doing but Ryan won't let me". "That's probably not a bad thing". "Please mum, I need to know he's ok". She sighed: "Tell you what, tomorrow, when you're a bit calmer, I'll see what I can find out ok"? I looked back up at her, I could feel myself sinking deeper and deeper into her clutches, but I couldn't stop myself: "Promise"? "I promise". I lay back down against her: "Do you think he'll be alright"? "I do, if he's as strong as you told me he is, he'll be absolutely fine". The moment passed in silence until mum spoke up again: "Are you tired angel"? I nodded: "Ok, you sleep, I can go now if you want". I don't know why, but for some reason, I actually didn't want her to leave, I'd truly reverted back to being a frightened child who just wanted her mum. I shook my head: "Ok beautiful girl, I'm here, I'm not going anywhere".
I woke up to the sound of shouting, Ryan had come back into the room and he and mum were arguing with what sounded like a police officer who wanted to ask me more questions. A doctor had come in to try and defuse the situation but it wasn't working, everyone's voices only grew louder and louder, until all I could hear was a mingled roar. I closed my eyes again, covered my ears, and tried to cling to what I usually clung to in times like these: "Gavin…. Gavin, please, please I'm so sorry about everything, I really need you right now, please"… I muttered, it was weird, the last couple times I'd fallen asleep, I didn't see his face like I normally did, it scared me: "Please, just one more time, I need to see you one more time, everything's a mess, I can't stop it on my own, please"…. Nothing. Now everyone in the room was getting louder, and even more people were filing in too. I felt someone gently shake my shoulder, I moved away from them, pulled my legs in a little and shut my eyes tighter, trying fruitlessly to block everything out: "Gavin, please, help me, give me something, anything, please". My eyes started to water yet again. It was no use, the more I called for him, the darker it seemed to get, I was drowning in an ocean of thick, black nothingness. Like that one Bible story we were told in year 7 RE class about that plague in Egypt where it was so dark the Egyptians could touch it. Only mine was worse, coz with it, came the crippling feeling that I'd never see Gavin again, and an even worse feeling? It was all my fault.

 

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